Rights: © Copyright 2012. University of Waikato. All rights reserved. Published 24 May 2013 Download

Developing the new compostable biospife involved a range of people and organisations with diverse knowledge and skills. Alistair Mowat of ZESPRI discusses some of the key people and organisations involved and the importance of the knowledge and expertise they contributed.

Jargon alert

Carbon footprint: The measure of the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by a product, organisation, event or person.
Value chain: All the companies and people that work together to produce and market a product.
Waste stream: The total amount of waste material generated throughout all stages of the production of a product including packaging for transporting to market.


Alistair Mowat

When we look at the range of people that have been involved in the biospife project, we’ve drawn on quite a range of skills. One of the first set of skills was our research providers at Landcare Research who were very involved in the carbon footprinting study that we did, and that looked at all aspects of our carbon footprint associated with growing a kiwifruit in New Zealand and shipping that product to Europe and having it consumed in the UK. That study was very important because it put a weighting on the different components in our value chain which impacted on the carbon footprint. And in the case of the existing spife, that carbon footprint was around 3%.

Another important component was the group at Scion who undertook a study for us looking at our waste streams associated with kiwifruit, and they were able to quantify the amount of waste kiwifruit and other waste aspects from our industry – the hairs on the kiwifruit which are brushed off during the packing process, waste plastics and packaging materials, prunings in the orchards. They were able to draw up a range of ideas on what some of those waste streams could be utilised for. They identified an opportunity for converting some of these materials into bioplastics.

That original work wasn’t necessarily directed to the spife, but it provided a good foundation.

Another important group was the plastic manufacturer, who makes our existing spifes, had recognised that, as a company, ZESPRI was looking at opportunities to lower its environmental impact and looking for innovative solutions. They expressed interest in working with us on developing solutions.

An important group also was our customers. Global retailers were looking for innovative solutions to how we provide our product into the market, and one of the important areas for global customers is waste streams associated with packaging materials. So they were important. They’re signals from the marketplace that increasingly into the future they would be looking for suppliers who were looking to solve some of those issues that they were addressing.

Dr Martin Markotsis, SCION
Alistair Mowat, ZESPRI
Zespri Group Ltd