Biobest, a pioneer in biological crop protection and pollination, has partnered with packaging giant Smurfit Kappa to develop an eco-friendly solution for transporting live bumblebees used in organic pollination.

The collaboration addresses the need for an alternative to the existing expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging, ensuring the safe and secure transportation of bees for outdoor pollination of fruit and vegetables.

Innovative packaging design

Biobest, founded in 1987, initially gained traction by breeding bumblebees in a garage for organic tomato pollination. Recognising the advantages of using live bees over chemical pesticides, the company sought a packaging overhaul.

Smurfit Kappa stepped in to design an insulated and weather-resistant box that could withstand prolonged outdoor exposure.

The packaging, part of Smurfit Kappa’s Better Planet Packaging portfolio, utilises water-resistant AquaStop paper and features hexacomb fitments to protect and insulate live insects during transportation.

Rigorous testing confirmed the pack’s ability to endure outdoor conditions for six to eight weeks, ensuring the safety and readiness of the bees for pollination upon arrival.

Biobest emphasises commitment to sustainability

Peter van Leent, sustainability manager at Biobest, highlighted the shared commitment to sustainability during the collaboration. The focus was on replacing the previous EPS box with a fully recyclable solution without compromising performance.

Van Leent stated: “We wanted to get a fully recyclable solution to replace the Styrofoam box we were previously using but needed to ensure that it would perform on several fronts. We’re looking forward to rolling this out for use with other live insects and mites.”

Smurfit Kappa’s eco-friendly approach to protecting bees

Arco Berkenbosch, CIO at Smurfit Kappa, emphasised the company’s awareness of bees’ crucial role in global food production. The developed packaging aims to safeguard the precious cargo throughout the supply chain and at its final destination.

Berkenbosch commented: “Our AquaStop paper has performed very well across many sectors, and one of its biggest selling points is the fact that the coating that makes it water-resistant doesn’t compromise its recyclability.

“At Smurfit Kappa, we have a broad range of 100% paper-based and recyclable solutions, such as this pack, which are the answer to the regulatory challenges that many of our customers are facing.”