Industry Must Be One On Packaging – Fish Farmer Magazine
Seafood producers and processors must work together to make industry packaging more sustainable. This was the message of the Salmon Scotland panel discussion ‘Packaging: Overcoming the Challenges’, which took place – rightly so – in Glasgow on 3 November, while COP26 also addressed sustainability issues at the same time. global scale.
Chaired by Atholl Duncan, President of Salmon Scotland, the panel members were:
- Andrew Bett, Managing Director of Salar Pursuits and former executive at multinational packaging group Mondi;
- Dr Clare Cavers, Senior Projects Manager, FIDRA – a non-profit organization working with industry to reduce plastic and chemical pollution;
- Ed Ley Wilson, Head of Aquaculture, Aquascot Ltd – a Highland-based processor and supplier to Waitrose;
- Donald Buchanan, Processing Manager, Scottish Sea Farms; and
- Conan Busby, Director of Cargo Business Development, Edinburgh Airport.
The Salmon Scotland Sustainability Charter, A better future for all of us, commits the industry to “strive to use 100% reusable, recyclable or biodegradable packaging”.
Currently, however, the default form of packaging for shipping chilled fresh salmon is styrofoam boxes. This has the advantage of being light, stiff and a good insulator, but it also means that the packaging is single-use and can contribute to plastic pollution.
The challenge for the industry is to find an alternative which is practical and which can guarantee acceptable levels of quality and hygiene.
Buchanan of Scottish Sea Farms said: “Our main concern is food safety – to which we must be as environmentally friendly as possible.”
FIDRA’s position, Cavers said, was that we need to move away from single-use packaging. She stressed, “We don’t intend to demonize the salmon industry – or the Styrofoam cans. But it is time to examine them.
Craig Gillespie, COO (Scotland) of the packaging company Molded Foams, pointed out that polystyrene is recyclable and represents more of the total plastic recycled in Europe than any other type of plastic.
The problem, however, is that while polystyrene is recyclable, it is not always recycled – this may depend on the end customer and the quality of the recycling infrastructure.
Andrew Bett said Mondi had worked with the Norwegian salmon industry to develop an alternative insulation box made from paper fibers and starch. The trials had started, he added, just before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Flatpack paper boxes also have another advantage, he noted: When returned empty, they take up much less space than molded polystyrene.
The panel agreed that a lasting solution would require innovative thinking. The will to change was there, but any change had to be achievable.
As Buchanan said, “We must move forward together as one.”
Packaging with less CO2
Meanwhile, independent producer Organic Sea Harvest (OSH) has also chosen COP26 to unveil another sustainable packaging solution, which it says will reduce the company’s net greenhouse gas emissions.
The fully compostable packaging, called CF422, will contain less than half the amount of CO2 in normal packaging, reduces the energy requirement at the packaging stage and eliminates the problem of microplastics, while ensuring food safety and storage time. Portions of Organic Sea Harvest Organic Salmon in the new packaging are expected to be available in early 2022.
CF422 will come from CELNOR Eco Packaging Ltd, a company offering compostable biomaterials and plastic-free packaging. The material is purposefully cultivated and comes from the EU.
Part of the material used is calcium carbonate – the same substance found in eggshells – so it breaks down safely.
Organic Sea Harvest CEO Ove Thu commented: “The packaging and transportation of food today must change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… We have invested in finding a best way to pack our frozen salmon portions. We can now announce that we have found a solution, which will be made available to retailers and their customers.
“We have worked with CELNOR before and the CF422 packaging that we will be using is not used anywhere else in the industry. We are delighted to be able to offer our customers and distributors a tasty organic product in environmentally friendly packaging.