Cargill's compostable feed bags have been successfully trialled at Wester Ross Salmon. Photo: Cargill Aqua Nutrition.

Sustainability’s in the bag for Cargill and Wester Ross

Salmon feed producer Cargill is progressing plans to introduce fully compostable packaging in Scotland, and then Norway, after a successful initial trial with Wester Ross Salmon.

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The packaging is made from food grade materials and unlike alternative sustainable options, breaks down into the environment completely, leaving no plastic materials or harmful residue behind. It is being used to make 25 kg bags often used for starter feed, although Wester Ross has been using the bags for its grower feed. The small bags complement Cargill’s existing portfolio which includes large 500 kg feed bags made of material that is 100% recyclable, although not compostable.

“Salmon farmers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce the impact on the environment, and one way to do that it to reduce our use of plastic,” said Rosie Dreghorn, technology application manager for Cargill Aqua Nutrition in Scotland.

“We invest in pioneering sustainable solutions like compostable packaging because it is the right thing to do for our customers, for our business and for the kind of environment we want to leave for future generations.”

Two-year development

The new compostable bags have been created and trialled at Cargill’s Westfield plant near Bathgate. They are the result of two years of development with Tain-based Gaia BioMaterials UK, which produces Biodolomer, a biodegradable product made from renewable materials and the mineral dolomite.

The first batch of feed packaged in the compostable bags was delivered to Wester Ross this summer. The bags performed well during transportation and on the farm, and feedback so far has been positive. After use the bags are taken to an industrial recycling plant in Aberdeen where they are composted

“We are proud of this achievement; however we acknowledge there is still work to be done,” said Dreghorn.

“We are at the early stages of this development, but we want to keep developing this project as our vision is to get rid of plastic packaging altogether. Any progress we make here is good for the fish, for the farmers, for the environment and, ultimately, for the consumer.”

Gilpin Bradley: "It has been an exciting project." Photo: BBC.

Preserving nature

Wester Ross Salmon managing director Gilpin Bradley said: “We are delighted that Cargill’s fully compostable packaging is such a success.

“Their focus on bringing sustainability features to their clients is in line with our company philosophy and operational practices.

“It has been an exciting project, one of a few we are currently working on to reduce our environmental impact. Preserving nature for future generations is not just a hip phrase. It is happening right here, right now.”

Cargill’s compostable packaging initiative was shortlisted for both the Environmental Impact Award and the Innovation Award at the Aquaculture UK Awards ceremony on September 16.