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How Orange Peels Revived A Costa Rican Forest

Have you ever wondered what orange juice companies do with all the peels from the fruit they juice?

The  tons of leftover pulp and peels are typically burned or tossed in a landfill, but in 1997 ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs came up with a better way to dispose of peels- dump them on deforested land:

In 1997, the pair approached the orange juice company and had a proposition for them. If they donated a piece of completely unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, then they could dump their discarded peels and pulp free of charge.

The place where they would dump the orange juice waste was a heavily grazed and deforested piece of land. The orange juice company agreed to the bargain. A year later, a thousand trucks came in and dumped over 12,000 metric tons of messy, sticky, orange-compost onto the land.

The agri-waste was supposed to act as compost and renew the stripped soil, but Daniel and Winnie wouldn't know how spot on their peel disposal proposal had been until decades later: 

After 16 years, Janzen had a graduate student named Timothy Treuer take a look at the spot and report back with his findings. He gave him directions to the sign they created; there shouldn’t be any issues locating the plot.

He wandered around for half an hour, and without any luck, couldn’t find the sign that Janzen had him set out to locate. Treuer called Janzen for some more details about the sign’s location. He returned a week later to the exact spot that Janzen elaborated on — but still, there was no sign in sight. They knew, though, that this was the plot of land they had the company dump on so many years ago.

When they realized they were looking at the correct plot of land, they were shocked. It looked nothing like the surrounding area anymore.


Compared to the adjacent land, Treuer said the side-by-side comparison was like “night and day.”

“It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems,” he says. The vegetation was so incredibly thick; they could still not locate the sign.

Read Orange Is The New Green: How Orange Peels Revived A Costa Rican Forest here

-Via Shareably


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