It’s not just in Mario Kart—banana peels can be a real problem for many races around the country, not only causing hazards for runners and spectators, but leaving massive amounts of rotting waste behind for volunteers to clean up.
Chiquita, the massive international fruit producer, is taking steps to change that. When the gun of the Walt Disney World 5K went off at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, it signaled the start of Chiquita’s new role as the official banana sponsor of the entire Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, as well as other runDisney events throughout the year.
The move is part of a larger strategy from Chiquita to strengthen its environmental responsibility practices, according to FreshPlaza, which covers fruit and vegetable news.
On the front end, Chiquita has donated over 100,000 bananas to race organizers, according to AndNowUKnow, another produce industry news outlet. But to keep things sustainable, each of the weekend’s four main races will feature Chiquita-branded waste receptacles in strategically-chosen spots along the course designed to dissuade runners or their supporters from simply tossing used peels on the ground.
According to the press release on FreshPlaza, the system has the potential to collect 14 tons of food scraps, equivalent to 28,000 pounds of banana peels, “and turn them into electricity or fertilizer,” though Chiquita doesn’t make clear what that would entail. The Walt Disney World race weekend is one of the largest in the country, with the marathon attracting around 20,000 finishers a year.
While this weekend’s slate of races may be the most high profile of runDisney’s 2019 calendar, Chiquita will continue its sponsorship and collection system for other races throughout the year, such as February’s Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend and April’s Star Wars Rival Run Weekend.
Chicquita’s iniative is just the latest example of races worldwide striving to be more environmentally-friendly. In September, the Harrow Half in the U.K. became the first long-distance European race not to use any single-use plastic cups or bottles. The Xiamen Marathon will also move away from single-use plastic, too.