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Waste to wealth: the hidden potential of waste from fruit

Author: Marilize Le Roes-Hill and Pamela J Welz

South Africa produces millions of tonnes of fruit each year that are exported, consumed locally, or processed into value-added products such as juice, canned fruit or wine. 

During the processing of fruit, thousands of tonnes of solid and liquid waste are produced. Solid waste is generated in the form of skins, pips and stalks, and liquid waste from water used to wash fruit or clean equipment. But research shows that this waste is not being put to use.

This has two major consequences. The first is environmental. Solid waste disposed to landfill adds to the burden already placed on these sites. Liquid waste disposal adds excessive nutrients to aquatic environments. This causes a nutrient imbalance, overgrowth of algae, loss of oxygen and the death of animals (crustaceans, amphibians, and fish). Secondly, there is a theoretical economic loss because the untapped potential of the fruit waste is not being exploited.

With climate change and global warming becoming more topical, there is a global move towards more sustainable economic strategies. This includes methods of farming, manufacturing and other industrial processes, energy generation, and water usage. In line with this, farming and agricultural industry methods and practices are constantly being re-evaluated.

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