© Westfalia Fruit
© Westfalia Fruit

Multinational avocado supplier Westfalia Fruit has introduced three environmental and social projects at its fruit processing plant in South Africa’s Kwa Zulu Natal province in a bid to boost sustainability and help local communities, the company announced.

The plant refines avocado oil which is used for a range of applications from cooking to cosmetics and has been developing ways to reduce the three separate types of waste generated in the refining operation – soap stock, spent bleaching earth and avocado wax.

Westfalia Fruit said it had partnered with local social enterprise PEN, which was making washing powder and soap from the plant’s soap stock waste.

“In addition to recycling the soap stock, their project is supporting homeless people living in shelters, which enable these communities to generate additional income from selling the soap and learn important business skills and break the cycle of poverty,” Petrus van Eeden, oil operations manager and technical support for new business development at Westfalia Fruits, said.

Avocado wax, which is removed from the oil during winterisation, was being used in the manufacture of biofuels and burners to generate energy instead of being sent to landfill, the company said in the 28 June statement.

Spent bleaching earths, which are used to remove colour from the oil, were also being recycled, the company said, with the solid waste from the process being composted and excess oil from it could be extracted as wax and made into a biofuel.

The projects were helping to reduce landfill waste by 70 tonnes/year, Westfalia said.

According to its website, Westfalia Fruit operates various avocado estates located on different continents. In southern Africa, farms are situated in the Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, and in Mozambique. The company also has farming assets in North America and Latin America, and in Portugal.​