Source: OceanWise Media team Themes: Fish boxes / Alternative materials
Makro Portugal, a cash and carry Portuguese company, is replacing all its fresh fish boxes made with expanded polystyrene (EPS) by polypropylene boxes. Annually, the company moves more than 300,000 EPS boxes from its central platform to the stores.
EPS has long been one of the most widely used materials in fresh fish transport, but is currently considered to be harmful to the environment and to human health.
On one hand, it is polluting the oceans, where marine organisms confuse small EPS particles with food and may die when they eat them. Some fish that have ingested these harmful components may also be eaten by humans.
On the other hand, it is a very difficult material to recycle and the packaging made of EPS takes up a lot of space in storage and transport. In contrast, according to Makro Portugal, polypropylene is easily recyclable and there is a strong demand for the reprocessed material. The new boxes have been considered more eco-friendly and affordable and with similar quality performances to EPS.
Previous studies concluded that when flattened, polypropylene packages have less than 10% of the volume of EPS. In fact, one truck full of polypropylene boxes is considered the equivalent to three trucks full with EPS ones.
The Portuguese company, member of METRO Group, began working on the introduction of new polypropylene packages in July 2017, during a joint meeting between the company’s operating staff and external suppliers.
The starting point was a similar project launched in 2015 by Concarneau Trading Office, a company located in France that supplies METRO Group with fresh wild fish.
Makro Portugal has made some adjustments to this project, with the introduction of different box covers to lower costs and new formats, adapting it to its necessities.
The company goal is to abandon the use of EPS boxes in fishmongers by the end of 2018, as well as reducing or eliminating plastic bags used in those facilities.
The company has also extended the challenge to its suppliers, so that they abandon the use of EPS in the packaging. “We are promoting with each individual supplier the awareness and promotion of this transformation”, Makro Portugal has announced.