Advanced Food Processing Equipment Design for a Sustainable Salmonid Fish Industry in Norway
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Food production is one of today’s largest contributors to resource consumption, transformation of landscape and land use as well as greenhouse gas emissions. As the world’s population grows, the food consumption grows with it. Forecasts show that the Norwegian seafood industry has a potential to grow six-fold due to increased demand over the next 40 years. The seafood processing industry has until recently been largely dependent on manual labor, but is nowadays undergoing an automation trend following the rest of the food industry. In order to sustain industrial growth, therefore, sustainability concerns and issues must be included in the development of facilities, processing lines, operations and machinery used for automated processing. The main objective of this thesis is to verify the working hypothesis that: “To determine if and how product development and technology innovation within salmonid processing equipment can facilitate a more sustainable and robust salmonid processing in Norway.” The research conducted within this thesis crosses the border of positivism, drawing upon Critical Theory. In order to obtain a wider perspective, a mixed-methods approach was selected. Two different methodologies, Action Research (AR) and Grounded Theory (GT), were employed in carrying out the research. Both methodologies leverage mutually qualitative and quantitative methods—in line with the requirements of Critical Theory. Striving for cost savings alongside the need to comply with new regulations, as well as the development of new fish food products in the market place, were found to be the main drivers for the development of new fish processing equipment today. On the other hand, traditional environmental requirements were not identified as an important driver. However, the research shows that processing equipment design has a significant effect on the environmental impact of the salmonid processing value chain. Based on analysis of existing production technology, several environmental equipment design-related factors were identified, including: (a) Total utilization of raw material for human consumption; (b) increase in the fraction of raw material used in main product (c) reduction of washing agents, and disinfectants and (d) water consumption during processing. Consequently, addressing these issues were found to be the important first steps for lowering the environmental impact of fish processing equipment. To introduce these factors within the development process a set of environmental performancerelated design guidelines were developed. Here efforts were made to make the guidelines easy to communicate, understand and implement among practical design teams. The developed guidelines are a starting point for integration of more environmentallyconcerned thinking and practice related to design of fish processing equipment. However, it is concluded that knowledge on environmental impacts does not necessarily lead to change unless actions are continually pursued and acted upon. If the development of new technology shall aid the industry towards a sustainable future, a change from a technological optimism towards a change in value and behavior must take place.