Dolefil to produce energy from fruit wastes

POLOMOLOK, South Cotabato (MindaNews/ 22 Nov.) – To help fight climate change and to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel, a giant multinational fruit processor based here is building two waste-to-energy facilities costing some P1 billion, officials said.

Randolph Fleming, vice president and managing director of Dole Philippines, Inc. (Dolefil), said that a biogas plant will each rise in the firm’s processing plants in the towns of Polomolok and Surallah, both in South Cotabato province.

He said these facilities will produce “green energy” to support Dolefil’s operations through the digestion of pineapple and other fruit waste from its canneries.

“These waste-to-energy conversion plants will function as renewable energy sources as well as sustainable waste treatment facilities for Dolefil,” he stressed.

The construction of the two biogas plants is planned to commence in the first quarter of 2019 for Surallah and in the third quarter of 2019 for Polomolok.

Operations are anticipated to begin in 2020.

Fleming said Dolefil had been operating a biomass plant in its Polomolok facility since 2012, decreasing their electricity consumption by five percent over each of the last five years.

METpower Venture Partners Holding, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., through Surallah Biogas Ventures Corporation, will finance, design, construct and operate the biogas plants for Dolefil.

Biogas is produced through the decomposition or breakdown of organic matter through a process called anaerobic digestion.

The biogas produced from the process will be used to generate steam and power for Dolefil’s operations.

Besides wastes from pineapple, which is the main product of Dolefil, the biogas plants will be fed with guava, papaya, mango and banana discards from its fruit cocktail product line.

Currently, Dolefil sells its excess pineapple pulps to cattle farms in the area that use them as feeds. Dolefil also turns their fruit wastes into farm composts.

Through METPower’s technology, the two biogas plants will produce about 50,000 megawatt-hour (MWh) of “green renewable energy” annually, the company said in a statement.

Jose Ma. K. Lim, Metro Pacific president and chief executive officer, said this is their first foray into bio-energy production.

“It also serves as a catalyst for a highly scalable waste-to-energy platform we plan to build in the Philippines through METPower,” Lim said.

The Dolefil project, which is estimated to cost P1 billion, will positively impact climate change through CO2 emission reduction by approximately 100,000 tons per year, Karim Manual Garcia, METPower chief executive officer, said.

Garcia said the biogas project will employ “completely airtight digesters” to ensure an odorless facility. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)