An S-BIN replaces up to 19 polystyrene boxes and is re-usable, but was banned for exports to the EU after Brexit.
An S-BIN replaces up to 19 polystyrene boxes and is re-usable, but was banned for exports to the EU after Brexit.

Mowi trials bigger boxes for shipments to Europe

Scottish salmon farmer gets go-ahead for more sustainable solution that was blocked by Brexit

Published

owi Scotland is trialling the use of larger, eco-friendly containers to send salmon to Europe after lobbying the European Union to lift a post-Brexit ban.

The company uses bespoke S-BINS – reusable containers that hold up to 400 kg of head-on gutted (HOG) salmon – instead of smaller, single-use polystyrene fish boxes whenever it can, including for transporting fish from its Blar Mhor primary processing plant in Fort William for further processing at its Consumer Products UK factory in Rosyth, Fife.

But new rules imposed after Brexit have meant it hasn’t been able to use the more sustainable S-BINS to send fish to the EU.

Mowi Scotland has been working with trade body Salmon Scotland and the UK Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to push for a change in legislation which would allow Mowi Scotland to transport salmon to France for processing for European customers.

Boulogne

“After Brexit, we were prohibited from using the S-BIN to send salmon to our internal consumer product plants in Europe,” Mowi logistics director Ewan MacColl told staff newsletter The Scoop.

“I’m pleased to report that this month, thanks to lobbying the EU, we will be starting a trial sending HOG salmon to our processing site in Boulogne in France.

S-BINS are designed to be collapsible, saving space on return journeys.
S-BINS are designed to be collapsible, saving space on return journeys.

“There will always be some markets where returnable packaging is not an option but having the ability to transport large volumes of HOG salmon with a much lower carbon footprint is a win-win. The salmon are packed using slurry ice (ice, salt and water) so that they sit in suspension and arrive in pristine condition for processing.”

Record in 2022

Last year, a record 36% of HOG salmon processed at Blar Mhor was packed in S-BINS, up from 29% in 2021.

One S-BIN, made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and corrugated polypropylene, holds the equivalent volume of salmon of 19 standard polystyrene fish boxes (400kg versus 21kg). One truck can hold up to 40 full bins carrying a combined total of 16 tonnes. Almost all of the packaging on board the truck is reusable and recyclable, compared to the single-use polystyrene boxes, thus reducing the environmental impact of the materials.

Because the S-BIN has collapsible sides, several hundred empty bins can be loaded on to a truck at Rosyth to be reused at Blar Mhor.