The Wood Fibre Alternative to Styrofoam Packaging in stores

In the past year, a number of K-food stores have successfully tested the new wood fibre-based EcoFishBox produced by Stora Enso. The new fish box will significantly reduce the use of plastics in grocery stores as fresh fish are commonly packaged in styrofoam (Expanded Polystyrene, EPS) containers for transportation.

The corrugated EcoFishBox was developed in Finland in cooperation with grocery stores and the fishing industry. Fresh fish is traditionally packed in plastic-based EPS containers, so the new packaging means a significant reduction in the grocery trade’s consumption of plastic.

“During the year, we experimented with wood fibre-based fish boxes in a few K-food stores. In terms of usability and logistics, the product did not depart from the EPS approach,” says Timo Jäske, Sustainability Manager, Kesko’s grocery trade.

Reducing the use of plastic-based packaging materials

The main task of food packaging is to protect the product in order to minimise food loss and waste. However, packaging made from non-renewable materials creates major waste issues worldwide.

“Each year, the world will fail to recycle more than 300 million tonnes of plastic, of which eight million tonnes will end up polluting the sea. In the Nordic region alone, more than 100 million EPS boxes are used per year,” says Vesa Penttinen, Sales Development Manager at Stora Enso Packaging.

“At K Group we are committed to reducing the use of plastic and, by setting an example, we also want to encourage our customers to do the same, hopefully inspiring them to choose, for instance, paper bags for their shopping. In the future, the use of renewable wood-based materials rather than plastics can be used in a variety of applications within the grocery trade,” says Jäske.

Sustainability – recycling resources

Stora Enso's corrugated EcoFishBox is sustainable packaging from start to finish. Domestic wood fibre is used as the raw material while the corrugated containerboard is completely recyclable.

The overall environmental impact of the corrugated packaging solution is considerably smaller than that of EPS fish boxes. According to studies, carbon dioxide emissions will decline by at least 30% throughout the value chain when packaging material changes from EPS to corrugated board.

“Another advantage is that while corrugated boxes can be delivered as ready-to-assemble flat packs, up to seven trucks would be required for an equivalent number of EPS boxes. The reduction in the need for transport thus decreases the amount of fuel used and the accompanying environmental stress and carbon dioxide emissions,” says Penttinen.

For stores, the fibre-based fish box also means easier and cheaper recycling. The compressable and fully recyclable EcoFishBox can lower the handling of packaging waste, transportation and recycling costs by as much as 60 percent. Cardboard recycling in Finland is on an excellent level and up to 99% of corrugated containerboard ends up being recovered.

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