It all began in 1997 when two ecologists from the University of Pennsylvania partnered with a young fruit juice company called Del Oro that was based in Costa Rica.
The company owned land that bordered with the Guanacaste Conservation area which is a national park located in the north western corner of the country.
The conservation group wanted to acquire the land and a deal was struck for a piece of a 3ha degraded area next door to the park.
In return the company was allowed to dump their left over oranges and peelings onto the site and as Del Oro did not use pesticides or insecticides they were only allowed to use the orange leftovers.
Not everyone was happy though and a rival fruit company took them to court and won an injunction to stop the dumping even after they were assured and shown evidence that it was safe to do so.
Over the course of the shortened project, 12,000 metric tons of orange pulp and peels were dumped onto the 3ha stretch of land.
After the court case the dumping was abandoned and for the next 16 years the peels remained, rotting and stopping the invasive weeds from coming up.
Then in 2013 an idea from a graduate student at Princeton, decided to do a study on what effects these orange peels had on the land after so long.
What he found nobody could have expected.
The area was so completely overgrown with trees and vines, he could hardly see the seven foot long sign originally marking the land, just a few feet from the road.
So, in 2014 a full team came back to study the lush, revitalised land.
They noted that there had been a three-fold increase in the richness of woody plant species and a 176 percent increase in above ground woody biomass with significant elevated levels of macro and micro nutrients.
The peels had completely transformed the lands fertility from barren lifeless soil into a thick, rich, loamy mixture.
It was concluded that the peels had so suppressed the growth of invasive grasses that was keeping the forest from flourishing.
This discovery gives hope to other companies that there are ways to execute waste management in environmentally and ecologically sound ways.
A column a few weeks ago hinted at our wastage of grass clippings, going into the bin instead of our gardens or left in a pile for a few years to decay and give us a rich soil composition. Unfortunately, we think these days that looking forward a couple of years is a long time, so it is, but consider this.
If you are an older person, look back on the last few years, before Covid times, 2019 and we are now nearly half way through 2023.
That’s four years ago, has that been a long time?
We too can do our bit for the environment, together we can change the world.