Kerecis Reduces Waste By Repurposing Fish Skin

Kerecis, a company in Iceland, has partnered with Iceland Ocean Cluster on a 100% Fish Project with the goal of creating high-value products out of previously wasted parts of the Atlantic Cod.

One such product is turning fish skin into human skin grafts, enabling burn victims to heal and generate new skin. Other products include getting fish oil from fish liver, exporting fish heads to Africa, and making fish leather from fish skin.

The 100% Fish Project fosters innovation, promotes economic development, and reduces waste in the fishing industry.

Video Spotlight:  

This post is based on the Civil Eats article, A Circular Economy for Fish? These Icelandic Companies Have a Plan, by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen, February 26, 2024, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Jeff Rotman / Alamy Stock Photo

Discussion Questions:

1. How does Kerecis exemplify the quest for sustainability from a product design perspective?

Guidance: Kerecis’ creative use of previously wasted parts of the Atlantic Cod has successfully turned more than 10 million metric tons of fish waste into materials for high-value products such as fish oil, human skin grafts, and fish leather. Instead of disposing of large amounts of fish waste that leads to disease and pollution, value is created, benefiting individual consumers, the fishing industry, and the wider ecological system.

2. Illustrate the concept of lean operations from the case of Kerecis.

Guidance: One of the characteristics of lean operations is waste reduction. Kerecis’ 100% Fish Project has a goal of achieving zero waste for its fisheries. Zero waste is accomplished by creating high-value goods such as supplements and medical products from previously wasted parts of the Atlantic Cod.

3. Illustrate the principles of lean operations using the Kerecis case.

Guidance: Kerecis’ “fish-skin soft-tissue regeneration products” follow the principles of lean operations in (1) identifying customer value from fish waste – by identifying fish skin’s tissue regeneration value, (2) developing the process of creating the identified value – by working with scientists to turn fish skin into human skin grafts, and (3) eliminating waste in the process – by avoiding disposal of fish skin.

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