AION will be scaled through a three-stage model, with Aker BioMarine’s own streams of plastic and biological production residues recycled into new products, allowing the company to reach its zero-waste vision. AION will work through Aker BioMarine’s network to receive plastic and biowaste streams from other companies, as well, with the goal of managing production residues globally and scaling business to include listings.
“There is no waste, only resources astray. These resources need to find their way into new value chains, contributing to increased resource efficiency while creating value,” Matts Johansen, Aker BioMarine CEO, said. “AION is well positioned to play a key role in unleashing these commercial opportunities.”
The EU has set a target of cutting down 55% of recycled plastic waste by the year 2030, a significant increase from the 16% that is recycled today. It is estimated that 260 million tons of plastic waste is generated annually worldwide. During 2021, the EU will define technical specifications of its taxonomy objective on circular economy, which will likely entail tightened regulations. These factors will create a pull in the market for recycled products, Aker BioMarine said, pointing to a McKinsey projection that the recycled waste market has a potential size of $60 billion.
“Technology development in this segment is rapid, therefore AION’s business model is technology diagnostic,” Johansen said. “We will not make large investments in fixed assets but will rather base ourselves on a value chain of solid and innovative subcontractors. Through our American subsidiary, Lang Pharma Nutrition, we have thirty years of experience in operating such a model.”
Value Chains and Customers in Place
AION was founded following an acquisition of a startup company built by Aker BioMarine employee Lasse Johansen – the certified B-Corp is built on an existent value chain and is one of three companies in Norway to receive this certification, which is recognized as one of the most important sustainability credentials in American retail. Lasse Johansen will continue to serve as chairman of the company.
“What Lasse has achieved alongside a very demanding responsibility in Aker BioMarine says a lot about the opportunity-oriented culture in our company,” Matts Johansen said.
Fast food giant McDonald’s is already on AION’s customer list, and its restaurants use serving trays made of AION’s recycled marine plastic.
“Our ambition is to run McDonald’s in a sustainable way both in terms of packaging and our other business. This means trying new things and constantly being on the lookout for new solutions. The recycled serving trays of sea plastic are one example of this. We developed these together with AION and we have taken another step towards reducing our footprint. We look forward to continuing the collaboration to achieve full circularity for our serving trays,” Hilde Øverby, Nordic QA and supplier sustainability lead at McDonald’s.
NorgesGruppen’s Meny grocery stores have also introduced AION’s shopping baskets of recycled marine plastic in some of its stores.
“Our mission is to create and contribute to sustainable development for the society around us, for our customers and for the company,” Robert Fjeld, concept manager at Meny, said. “This pilot is very exciting for us who work to reduce the use of virgin plastic, where we can. The shopping baskets made from recycled plastic from the sea are good alternatives, and we look forward to taking this to the next level together with AION.”
The clothing retailer Varner is another of AION’s customers.
Innovations and Product Development Remain a Focus
Architecture company Snohetta assists AION through projects to create future sustainable solutions and designs for circular products.
“Fundamental to all our work is a commitment to social and environmental sustainability,” founder Kjetil Traedal Thorsen said. “Through several years of design innovation and materials research, we see a great untapped potential to maximize the resources we already have on earth today, whether it is through reuse, redesign, and/or recycling. We strongly believe that through projects working together with AION we can bring about real changes with major societal gains in the future, and we look forward to embarking on this exciting collaboration.”
AION is working with data and AI company Cognite to develop a software for AION’s customers that ensures traceability, resource optimization, and monitoring of central data points for sustainability reporting. Both the service and the physical products will be structured through seamless access rather than procurement, in line with the well-known Software as a Service model used by IT companies.
“Companies must know and understand how they affect the environment and have control over the entire value chain,” John Markus Lervik, CEO of Cognite, said. “To succeed in this, data must be retrieved from core systems, connected, placed in a relevant context, and made easily accessible. Cognite Data Fusion is in a unique position to realize AION’s ambition in this area.”
With the establishment of AION, Aker BioMarine general manager Runa Haug Khoury spoke highly of the initiative to take on a major global environmental challenge.
“The world is facing several environmental challenges that require solutions at the industrial level,” Haug Khoury said. “Being allowed to scale up and take lead on a green commercial venture of this scope, based out of a system like Aker, is the dream job.”