Oslo, Norway—Aker Biomarine's take on waste: “There is no waste, only resources astray." That's the word from Aker CEO Matts Johansen, who recently announced the launch of AION, a certified B Corp offering products and services to businesses aiming to recycle waste and re-use materials with a goal of being a key player in the circular economy. Greek for "eternity," AION stems from circular initiatives within Aker BioMarine focused on plastic waste and production residues. "These resources need to find their way into new value chains, contributing to increased resource efficiency while creating value," Johansen  explained. "AION is well positioned to play a key role in unleashing these commercial opportunities.”

Aker BioMarine explained in a release that it will scale AION through a three-stage model:
  • Work with Aker's own streams of plastic and biological production residues, recycling those into new products. This will allow the company to reach its zero-waste vision and goal of full circularity of Aker's principal waste by 2023.
  • Work through Aker BioMarine's network to receive other companies' plastic and biowaste streams, establishing AION as a trustworthy circular solution provider.
  • Manage production residues globally and work to scale its business model with an ambition for listing on the stock exchange.
The company plans to work with partners who specialize in technology. “Technology development in this segment is rapid, therefore AION's business model is technology diagnostic," Johansen explained. "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 30 years of experience in operating such a model."

Outlining the market opportunities, Aker noted:

  • 260 million tons of plastic waste is generated annually worldwide.
  • The EU has set a target of 55% recycling of plastic packaging waste within 2030.
  • Only 16% of plastic packaging waste is recycled today, but additional regulatory tightening is expected, according to McKinsey.
  • During 2021, the technical specifications of the EU Taxonomy objective on circular economy will be defined, which "is likely to create a pull in the market for recycled products."
  • To reach that target of 55% recycling rate in 2030, McKinsey predicts a market size potential of USD $60 billion.
Big-name companies are already on board. One of AION's customers: McDonald's, which

AION tray. Courtesy of Aker Biomarine.

uses serving trays of recycled marine plastic from AION in Norway. “Our ambition is to run McDonald's in a sustainable way both in terms of packaging and our other business," Hilde Øverby, Nordic QA and Supplier Sustainability Lead at McDonald’s, said in the announcement from Aker. "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."

AION basket. Courtesy of Aker Biomarine.

Another customer: NorgesGruppen's MENY stores. Through a pilot program, some of the store locations introduced AION's shopping baskets of recycled marine plastic. “Our mission is to create and contribute to sustainable development for the society around us, for our customers and for the company,” said Robert Fjeld, Concept Manager in MENY, in the release. “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.”

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The establishment of AION takes place through the acquisition of a startup company built by Aker employee Lasse Johansen, who will continue to play an active role as Working Chairman of AION. Also on board: Runa Haug Khoury, currently Sustainability Director at Aker BioMarine and now taking on the role of General Manager of AION. “The world is facing several environmental challenges that require solutions at the industrial level,” she 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."

In addition to being a B Corp, AION is part of 1% for the Planet. Looking to the future, the goal is to prove the business model and then look at opportunities in the U.S., including collaborations with B Corps and U.S. retailers who are focused on environmental goals including those related to plastic.