After 30 years, EPS fish packaging is seen as outdated and a crime against the environment. The owner of BEWi had the idea of replacing the traditional lid with a film.
An extensive user and market analysis revealed the enormous potential the idea had for the product system’s users. The challenge was to totally redesign the entire packaging system with the aim of reducing costs and the environmental impact.
It is commendable that two competitors, BEWi and Vartdal, have joined forces to improve and develop the traditional fish box into a system that will set a new standard for Norwegian salmon packaging. The system consists of boxes of various sizes where the lids are replaced with film, and a pallet made of moulded EPS. The new box is both lighter and stronger, and by removing the lid both weight and volume are reduced.
The jury praised the fact that the new system is designed to have optimum function at all levels and that it represents vast improvements for all product system users. By using film instead of a lid, the quality of the fish can also be checked without opening the lid. The product is a giant leap for the industry and a functional innovation with an environmental bonus.
EPS Box case
The project started out as an idea from the owner of BEWi. The idea was to replace the traditional lid with a film. On this basis, the product design agency Inventas started gathering information and conducting technical experiments, as well as extensive user and market analyses. The entire product lifecycle was also mapped from the outset. The enormous potential the idea had for the product system’s users then became clear. The project went from solving the technical issues of using a film covering to a total redesign of the entire packaging system.
Two competitors join together to develop a new system
BEWi realised that by ceasing production of lids, the company would lose 10-15% of its turnover. However, the company concluded that developing for the future would be beneficial in the long term. To achieve enough market power to introduce a new standard, BEWi decided to contacts its largest competitor, Vartdal Plastindustrier, to ask if it wanted to buy into the project. The product system operates in a market with a turnover of around 1 billion NOK on a national basis, where BEWi and Vartdal have 25% and 35% of the market respectively.
By removing the lid and redesigning the box, BEWi and Vartdal achieved a new design that is lighter and stronger than the packaging that has been competing for 30 years. Various design concepts were tested to ensure that the best possible design was produced in terms of strength and weight. By reducing the amount of material used, it has been possible to use a stronger material with a higher density, which has significantly reduced production costs.
Large volume equals great effect
In 2010 around 950,000 tonnes of salmon were exported in about 47.5 million fish boxes. This amounts to approximately 10 million salmon meals each day. By reducing the weight and volume of the packaging, the energy required for extracting raw materials, as well as that for production and transport, is reduced. The packaging is designed to minimise losses during transport and handling. This is a significant environmental improvement from the current packaging.
MISA conducted a lifecycle analysis where it compared the new packaging system to the old one. The analysis shows that the greatest environmental improvement in the system’s lifecycle would be achieved in the transport stage. CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 10.6% when using air freight and by 6.2% with surface freight due to less transport of air.
In 2009, CO2 emissions from salmon transport could potentially have been reduced by 155,000 tonnes, if the EPS Box had been used.
Reduced environmental impact equals reduced costs!
A lid costs 4-6 NOK, while a film costs around 1 NOK. This means a potential saving for the entire industry of 130 million NOK per year. In addition to reduced production costs, transport costs are also greatly reduced as a result of packaging that is lighter and has a smaller volume. By combining focus on product details with a holistic view of the product’s lifecycle, the EPS Box has become a product that saves the environment and reduces the industry’s costs. The aim of the EPS Box is to take over as the successor to the 30 year old fish box to create a new standard in fish packaging.
Company: BEWi Produktet AS
Project group company: Collaboration partner: Jan Endre Vartdal (Vartdal Plastindustrier) - Project Manager: Christian Bekken (BEWi)
Design: Inventas Trondheim AS
Project group design company: Design, calculation and graphical: Torkel Sørhus (Inventas) - Design and Graphic: Synnøve Kjerstad (Inventas) - Calculation: Karianne Kleven Grøntvedt (Inventas) - Materials and production: Snorre Bache (Inventas)
Award / year: Special Awards - 2011
Category: Sustainability Design Award