As champions of a circular, sustainable solution to the environmentally-damaging problem of polystyrene fish packaging, we are delighted to support Tom and Kath Long as they bring the revolutionary TomKat KoolPak to market.
Since Belinda first connected with Tom almost a year ago, we have been enormously impressed with Tom and Kath’s energy, focus and commitment to quality. We think the Koolpak is set to take the packaging world by storm and it is our great pleasure to be a “Koollaborator” and share Tom and Kath’s story so far.
Why the KoolPak?
Kath explained that when she and her husband, Tom, decided to market their premium quality reef fish direct to the public, including top-line Sydney restaurants, polystyrene proved a barrier. “We were concerned about the volume of polystyrene going to landfill, or even worse, the ocean. We searched for an alternative, but nothing matched polystyrene’s performance, so we created our own.” From the outset, their innovation needed to be environmentally responsible and thermally efficient for it to be viable. The project has grown significantly since then, and their re-usable, recyclable box, which is now trademarked as the TomKat KoolPak, has developed into a system complete with block chain traceability and temperature monitoring.
Kath and Tom’s research indicates that the seafood industry is responsible for approximately half a billion Polystyrene (EPS) fish boxes entering landfill and the ocean every year. Polystyrene can also find its way into the stomachs of seabirds, sea mammals, fish and other marine life affecting the entire food chain.
EPS fish boxes are the most commonly used product for transportation and protection of fish and fish products worldwide. They have well-established attributes in thermal performance, impact protection and stacking strength. In addition, they are lightweight and relatively cheap to manufacture. Unfortunately, the very qualities that make EPS such a cost-effective material are also the reasons it has become widely considered as an environmental problem. Polystyrene is one of the most common items floating in the ocean, readily harming sea life and human health.
The seafood industry is directly dependent on the health and resilience of the world’s oceans. Reducing the use of polystyrene packaging demonstrates our commitment to environmental responsibility and improves our social licence to operate.
Features of the TomKat KoolPak
Kath and Tom explained “Since flying our own line caught reef fish to Lolla Producer, a show designed to introduce best-in-class producers to chefs who share values of local, ethical and sustainable produce, in our prototype KoolPak we have been focussed on developing the most advanced, environmentally responsible packaging solution in the world. The TomKat KoolPak provides so much more than just an alternative to EPS.”
They have worked meticulously with three Australian companies, each of them recognised globally as having sustainable practices and as leaders in their own fields, to develop materials which are best in their class. Specific blends have been developed, tested, and manufactured specifically for the KoolPak project, and Kath and Tom have ensured that no materials are co-mingled so they remain 100% recyclable. Beyond excellent material specifications, many of the processes to convert these into the required form were developed specifically for this project. These processes are currently being adapted by a global leader in designing manufacturing systems to develop commercialised machinery capable of high-volume outputs with lowest energy inputs.
Independent testing by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has proven that the KoolPak has equivalent thermal performance to EPS, and in some situations exceeds it, such as if product is left on a tarmac in the sun. The KoolPak has airline approval for up to 25 kg, which is 25% more than an equivalent sized polystyrene box, without the need for a single use plastic liner bag or single use restrictions.
Imperative for sustainability and environmental protection was to design a container that was capable of multiple use. The KoolPak is flat-packable making transportation and storage efficient and is designed to be re-used by the same user or re-assigned for rotational re-use. The KoolPak app uses block chain technology to track and trace each KoolPak from point of manufacture, through reuse and ultimately back to the recycler. Businesses can use this information to help achieve and validate their own sustainable development goals. To further build value and advantage for the user, we have developed and included a specialised passive NFC temperature sensor tag.
As fishers Kath and Tom know their target market is the seafood industry, but the KoolPak has significant application across a number of sectors that rely on efficient transport of perishable and temperature-sensitive products including agricultural and horticultural produce, meat and dairy produce, pharmaceutical products such as medicines and vaccines, chemicals and biological samples, e-commerce, confectionery and electronics and IT equipment.
For further information and Kath and Tom’s exciting innovations, please visit https://www.koolpakbox.com/.