Managing Fruit and Vegetable Waste

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The production, harvest, sorting and packing of fruits and vegetables produces close to a billion pounds of produce annually, according to the 2009 agricultural report for Georgia. These processes also result in material that is rotten, has bad spots not noticed in the field, or that is removed from packing lines and not shipped to the consumer. Properly dealing with discarded products can reduce the potential for environmental pollution while also protecting the individual who is responsible for the discarded materials.
In Georgia, the Environmental Protection Division regulates the disposal of all solid wastes. Fruit and vegetable culls are considered solid waste as soon as they are transported from the packing shed or point of discard. While not all of the listed methods of dealing with fruit and vegetable waste material may be applicable for every situation, one of the best methods of dealing with the culls or waste products from a packing house is to reduce the amount of unusable material brought to the packing house.

Gary L. Hawkins
University of Georgia