Over the past two years, AKVA group has developed the world's first fish farming pen made entirely from recycled plastic – and now the first pen has been launched. The pen is manufactured using plastic from disused pens provided by Nova Sea and will undergo testing at Varpet, one of Nova Sea's locations. This project is a natural continuation of the long-standing collaboration between AKVA group and Nova Sea. In 1974, the world's first plastic pen was produced in Mo i Rana upon request from fish farmers in Lovund. Almost 50 years later, the first pen made from recycled plastic has been produced at AKVA group's facility in Mo.
Government authorities impose stringent standards and regulations on plastic used in pens to ensure escape prevention at aquaculture facilities. Through this development project, AKVA group, in partnership with Plasto and Oceanize, has demonstrated the high quality of recycled plastic. The world's first pen made from recycled plastic has now been approved and certified.
"In a way, the circle is complete. We are proud of both the history and, most importantly, what we have achieved now," says Freddy Bakken Braseth, General Manager of AKVA group in Mo i Rana. "AKVA group is committed to reducing the use of virgin plastic, both to lower the carbon footprint and to contribute to more circular value chains. We use 7,000-8,000 tons of raw material per year and aim to incorporate as much recycled plastic as possible. The advantage of retired pens is that the plastic quality remains high and is well-suited for recycling. Nova Sea has been an important partner for us for many years, and the fact that we can retrieve the recycled plastic from their own pens and deploy the new pen at their site is quite interesting."
Nova Sea is proud to participate in the testing of recycled pens from their own facilities. "For Nova Sea, it has been important to be a part of this project, and we are proud that the new recycled pens will be tested at our sites, while also originating from our own disused pens. The fact that the used pens we supply will no longer be incinerated but used for new pens is fantastic. This is simply a milestone for all of us," says Odd Stensland, Technical Manager of Aquaculture at Nova Sea.
Fisheries Minister Bjørnar Skjæran also praised the project to TV2 for its potential to promote a circular economy and sustainable practices. He expressed optimism about its impact on the industry and applauded the thorough testing that has been carried out (source).
Oceanize cutting disused pens at Nova Sea. Source: AKVA group.
AKVA group, in collaboration with Oceanize and Plasto, has developed and manufactured the pen. This means that instead of purchasing virgin granules from abroad, the pen is now produced entirely in Norway within an efficient regional value chain. Transport is reduced, and the overall carbon footprint is reduced by two-thirds compared to a pen made from virgin plastic. The project is supported by the SkatteFUNN R&D tax incentive scheme and the Norwegian Retailers' Environment Fund (Handelens Miljøfond).
"AKVA group and Nova Sea are leading the way and doing something we need many more companies to do – creating a closed loop for the plastic they use. The plastic from fish farming pens will be both recyclable and derived from recycled plastic, and we hope that this will inspire many others," says Cecilie Lind, General Manager of Norwegian Retailers' Environment Fund.