Aker BioMarine forms new business unit aimed at plastic recycling

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Aker BioMarine said McDonald's meals in Norway are already being served on trays made from plastic recycled through its new business unit called AION.  Aker photo.
Aker BioMarine said McDonald's meals in Norway are already being served on trays made from plastic recycled through its new business unit called AION. Aker photo.

Related tags Omega-3s Sustainability Recycling Krill oil

Krill oil supplier Aker BioMarine has formed a new business unit called AION that is aimed at capturing plastic waste and recycling it into new products such as grocery shopping baskets and food service trays, in what the company calls a ‘circularity as a service’ model.

The formation of the new business unit was announced at a press conference today.  Runa Haug Khoury, Aker’s director of sustainability, has been named CEO of the new unit, which the company eventually plans to spin off as a separate entity.

Aker CEO Matts Johansen said Aker’s focus has always been on what’s best both for the consumer and for the planet, which makes the new service a natural fit.  AION has been certified as a B Corporation, which Haug Khoury said is an important certification especially in the US market.

Aker BioMarine is part of a larger multi faceted organization that has long been involved in oilfield services in the North Sea.  As crude oil production, especially from offshore platforms, operates on thin margins, such companies are tightly focused on eliminating waste and deriving value from every part of the production chain.

Waste as added value

The new business unit has relied on some of that value chain DNA, Haug Khoury said.

“We see waste as valuable resources that need a new purpose,”​ she said.

Aker itself generates tons of plastic waste each year, Johansen said.  Among the main items are the huge nets the company uses to harvest krill in the far South Atlantic Ocean.  The new AION platform will verify that such nets, when they have reached their use limit, get repurposed into new products.  Aker also has its main krill oil processing facility in Houston, as well as a contract manufacturing subsidiary, both of which will be plugged into the new system.

The heart of the new company is a plug and play software solution that clients can use to assess their waste streams and certify that they are being repurposed.

EU has big recycling target

Johansen said the new business unit, the groundwork for which was developed over the past four years by Aker employee Lasse Johansen, already has customers in Norway.  McDonalds outlets in the country are already serving fast food meals on trays of recycled plastic generated through the system and grocery chain partnerships are in place as well, he said.

Haug Khoury said among the drivers for demand of the new service is the EU’s goal of having 55% of plastic be recycled by 2030.  At the moment only about 16% of plastic waste globally finds its way into recycling streams.

The economics of recycling has always been seen as a sticking point, and having a push via government fiat is a help in achieving these goals.  Haug Khoury said there is hope that the incoming Biden Administration in the US will make for a friendlier climate for such initiatives in this country.

“Especially on the climate front we see a new direction from the new administration,”​ she said. 

Matts Johansen said an important aspect of the new subsidiary is that it is a service that clients would rent, so to speak.  Also, AION does not envision making big new technology investments but will work with existing partners.

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