Review of Environmental, Social, and Labor Issues
Environmental and Labor Issues:
Environmental Classification: This is a category III project according to the IIC’s environmental and labor review procedure because it could produce certain effects that may be avoided or mitigated by following generally recognized performance standards, guidelines or design criteria. During the environmental and social appraisal of the project the following main issues were assessed: (1) environmental management, (2) water use, (3) wastewater, (4) solid waste, (5) air emissions, (6) pesticide management, (7) natural resources and biodiversity management, (8) fire safety and occupational health and safety, (9) labor, and (10) monitoring and annual reporting.
Environmental Management: The company has developed an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) for the project. The ESMP details the procedures for the measures to be implemented to minimize environmental and labor impacts related to Dinant’s operations. Dinant has developed an Environmental Policy, Land Acquisition Policy, Land-Use Policy, and Good Agricultural Practices Policy, and is in the process of developing a corporate-wide Environmental and Social Management System based on international standards (ISO 14001). The company is committed to obtaining ISO 14001 certification for its plants in San Pedro Sula, Aguan, Lean, and Comayagua, as a number of pre-audits necessary for obtaining the certification have already been conducted. In addition, Dinant is developing an improved occupational health and safety management system based on the international standards for health and safety OHSAS 18001. Several of Dinant’s cucumber and green pepper growing and packaging operations in Comayagua, including the greenhouses and Finca Summit, have been certified in HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point).
Water Use: Although food and oil palm processing does require large amounts of water, this does not pose a problem given the abundance of surface and underground water resources in the region. However, Dinant will implement a water savings plan to further optimize the use of water in its operations.
Wastewater: There are various sources of wastewater generated at Dinant’s facilities, which include the following: process water, storm water, sewage, cleaning water, and water from the chillers. Dinant generally uses aerobic lagoon systems, however they have committed to upgrading the treatment system at the Dixie plant, as well as to ensuring that the quality of the liquid effluent from the other facilities complies with local standards.
Solid Waste: The majority of the solid waste generated at the company's facilities is recycled or sold as a useful by product. Plastics and cardboard are recycled at a sorting center in the Dixie plant and rejected snacks are bagged and sold for animal feed. Pallets and steel and plastic drums from the Comayagua facility are donated to local communities. The company is committed to ensuring that conventional and hazardous waste is adequately separated. As part of Dinant’s new Environmental and Social Management System, the company will develop a corporate-wide Waste Management Plan, which covers the waste generated not only in Dinant’s plants, but also in its agricultural operations. This will also include developing an inventory of all of the hazardous substances used by the company, including the commercial name, and the quantity applied.
Air Emissions: The company will phase out the use of Freon as a refrigerant, given that it is a greenhouse gas and ozone depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbon. In addition, the company will monitor fuel consumption for the boilers (including biomass) in order to ensure that the combustion is optimal and that air emissions comply with local standards and international best practices. Smokestack emission tests from the boilers will also be made to ensure proper combustion and corrective actions will be implemented if necessary.
Pesticide Management and Agricultural Practices: Dinant has a successful integrated pest management (IPM) program in place, where biological controls are primarily used, thereby minimizing the application of pesticides. Employees receive ongoing training in IPM methods. In addition, the company will ensure that none of the pesticides that are applied are on the Stockholm Convention’s "dirty dozen list".
Natural Resources and Biodiversity Management: The company’s land use policy prohibits it from establishing agricultural activities within protected areas. As the oil palm plantations are grown in previously disturbed areas, the impact on biodiversity and local threatened or endangered species is very low.
Fire Safety and Occupational Health and Safety: The plants are equipped with fire extinguishers and first aid kits. At the request of the IIC, the company also plans to install smoke detectors and conduct a fire safety evaluation of its plants to determine the number and location of hydrants necessary to combat potential fires. Signage indicating evacuation routes and emergency exits were observed. The company will ensure that equipment safety and warning signs are placed consistently in places where there is potential dangerous equipment or other types of hazards. The company also plans to improve its recordkeeping and analysis of workplace accidents in order to make the necessary modifications to its procedures or provide additional training to reduce the number of accidents. In addition, the company will implement a comprehensive training program on occupational health and safety issues for both plant and farm employees. Workers are provided with the appropriate protective equipment and first aid. The company will also develop an Occupational Health and Safety Management System as part of the corporate-wide Environmental and Social Management System.
Labor: The Company Human Resources Policy states that the minimum hiring age is 18. Persons with a minimum age of 16 are only permitted to work with the authorization of their guardians and the competent authorities. The company has a union, which workers are free to join if they wish.
Monitoring and Annual Reporting: The company will submit an annual report summarizing the monitoring data related to wastewater discharge, solid waste disposal, fire safety, occupational health and safety, accident reports, and labor related issues.