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The University and Polarbröd are collaborating for a sustainable future

Published: 4 June 2021

A year ago, Polarbröd's bakery in Älvsbyn burned down. Since then, the company has been investing heavily in building a completely new facility, adapted to modern requirements for ecological, economic and social sustainability. Since the spring of 2021, the company has been collaborating with researchers from Luleå University of Technology.

– Polarbröd has already been a pioneer and locomotive in sustainable production. Now the company is switching up in collaboration with us at the university, says Anna Öhrwall Rönnbäck, professor of product innovation and initiator of RaSP – Resilient and Sustainable Production.

The purpose of the RaSP project is to develop useful knowledge for industrial companies that want to  develop their production systems. Here, Polarbröd is an important partner. How can the resources used in the production chain be utilized in the most efficient and smartest way possible? Innovation and streamlining of resource consumption not only reduces the ecological footprint, it also benefits economic and social sustainability.

– Sustainable companies can charge higher prices because their products become more sought after. Innovation and resource efficiency can also reduce production and distribution costs, which benefits both customers and companies.

Bread waste becomes proteins

An example of how Polarbröd already today works innovatively is the collaboration with the Gothenburg company Mycorena, which has developed a method for converting bread waste into proteins with the help of fungi.

Anna Öhrwall Rönnbäck explains that sustainability is about thinking beforehand. Already in the design phase of a production system, there should be an idea of how the facility should be designed to be able to adapt to unexpected changes in the ecological, social and economic environment.

The researchers will also participate in the further development of CHARM – Center for sustainable attractive resilient food and beverage production, Polarbröd's investment in regional development together with Älvsbyn municipality, Region Norrbotten and Sparbanken Nord. The purpose of the center is to create a favorable business environment for small businesses in the food and beverage industry in Norrbotten and Västerbotten. This can include helping companies find their customers, creating an attractive environment for potential workforce and finding synergy effects in the collaboration between the participating companies and the organizations.

Anna Öhrwall Rönnbäck envisions mutual learning where the university and Polarbröd learn from each other.

– By collaborating with Polarbröd as an example of a sustainable production system, we can train engineers who will become well prepared for the sustainable industry of the future, says Anna Öhrwall Rönnbäck.

Karin Bodin, CEO of Polarbröd, also has big expactations of a fruitful collaboration. 

 – We are very happy to start up a collaboration with Luleå University of Technology. So far, we at Polarbröd have been focusing on stage 1, to rebuid our bread production in Älvsbyn. We expect to be up and running this autumn. We look forward to the next step, the future bread meal production at Polarbröd, where we really want to take the oppurtunity to build a sustainable and smart solution for the future. We are very much looking forward to taking part in Luleå University of Technology's broad expertise in sustainable and flexible industry for the future, says Karin Bodin.