Eco-friendly packaging challenge

Project background

An accredited frozen and chilled food manufacturing and distribution business, based in Aberdeenshire, is seeking an innovative environment-friendly packaging solution to replace its polystyrene boxes.

They undertake the picking, packing and distribution to customers in the UK, Europe and Far East.

Customers include Michelin starred restaurants and members of the public.

They demand and expect the highest quality in service performance, products and packaging, and are provided these with current packaging formats and business partners.

Since the beginning of their ecommerce business they have used EPS polystyrene boxes and ice to ensure our food products remain at the required legal temperatures during transit, and arrive at their final destination fit for purpose.

This is the same for trade customers in the UK and for DRD customers in the UK and into Europe.

In 2017 and 2018 there have been numerous journalist articles on the use of plastics and their effect on our seas and the environment. As a result, the company has undertaken trials on more recyclable materials, such as, cardboard, but have yet to find a one fit solution for both sales streams that ensure the products remain at the correct temperature on arrival.

The challenge

The company understands the importance of partnerships within business.

Can you help them find a solution that:

  • Gives the company the necessary product temperature security?
  • Ensures that environmental responsibilities are met?
  • Keeps cost within budget?

They need businesses that can help them deliver goods safely, on time, within cost limits, with a positive impact on the environment and in packaging that can be reused, recycled or has an ongoing shelf life in other forms.

The company's aim is to be an on-line frozen and chilled food business that removes plastics, including polystyrene from its delivery packaging range. It also needs to ensure their own and legally required food standards are fully met when delivering to our customers.

The company wants to become the supplier of choice for all customers buying chilled or frozen food products online.

How the company operates

Packing and distribution operations depart from the site on day one. Orders can be taken any day up to a cut-off point on day one, for delivery day two, day three or beyond.

Who are their customers?

  • Trade - restaurants, hotels, etc
  • DRD - direct to customers
  • Exports - food businesses

Delivery locations

UK mainland

Orders are received up to 12pm day one and are picked, packed, then distributed by vehicles that leave no later that 3.30pm. These are delivered day two.

UK Islands (Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Scottish islands)

Orders are received up to 10am and are picked, packed, then distributed by vehicles that leave no later than 12pm. These are delivered on day two, day three or day four.

European customers (includes Channel Islands)

Orders are received up to 10am and are picked, packed, then distributed by vehicles that leave no later than 2.30pm. These are then delivered day two, day three, day four or day five.

World customers

Orders are received throughout the week and packed. These can be requested to be delivered via air or sea routes.

Delivery volumes

  Average orders per day Average orders per day (in peak periods)
Trade chilled and frozen 90 150
DRD frozen 1600 5000

The budget

  • Delivery budget is £2.5 million per annum
  • Packaging budget is £1.2 million per annum

On average we use 855,646 pieces of EPS each year, with an overall cost of £750,000 per annum. These are used for both DRD and trade customers to carry frozen and chilled goods.

Project deliverables

Transportation is currently via UK couriers.

The company would like you to:

  • Undertake trials of environmentally friendly packaging that meet their business strategy of delivering frozen and chilled products to the consumer
  • Produce documented evidence of materials used, temperature ranges and costs involved against current packaging
  • Provide an alternative transportation solution

Applications for this challenge will close on 28 September 2018.

How to apply

Send your questions and proposals to Jillian Moffat in our innovation team by email to