Fish Oil, Sustainably Made

The Nordic Way

Living more sustainably—using fewer natural resources to meet daily needs—is a goal that many of us share. As a supplements manufacturer that relies on natural resources, Nordic Naturals takes this same view of sustainability. We’re thoughtful about how much energy it takes to make our products, and the amount and type of resources we consume in order to make them.

Like every manufacturer, we still find ways to make our company as sustainable as we can, but we have come a long way—#1 in the natural products marketplace—while always sourcing sustainable, wild fish for our omega-3 fish oils. The unique story of how we make our fish oil today is one worth sharing.

From Tromsø to You

Nordic Pharma is Nordic Naturals’ fish oil manufacturing facility in Tromsø, Norway, just a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle. We built this facility so that we could customize the complex processes of fish oil manufacturing ourselves, something we feel is critical to delivering the highest-quality products available. Our use of highly advanced fish oil processing technology means gains in efficiency that benefit the planet—fewer raw materials (fish) are needed to reach desired omega-3 concentration levels.

When Nordic Pharma came to life in 2013, we used the existing structure of an old shrimp processing plant to conserve building resources and minimize construction disruptions for neighboring businesses and residents. Our proximity to the bay gives us quick access to the transportation port of Tromsø, as well as easy access to the great outdoors. It’s not uncommon for us to see whales breaching just beyond the docks at our facility, or end our workday with a team hike.

Surrounded by mountains and fjords, Tromsø is known for being one of the best places on earth to see the fabled northern lights of winter. It’s also a busy cultural center and university town, with a population that swells to 80,000+ residents in the summer.

Most businesses in Tromsø are conscious of their environmental impact, and minimizing waste, as well as using alternative energy, is a fact of life in Norway. Ninety-eight percent of the country’s electricity comes from hydropower, while wind and wave power generates the rest.

Reducing fossil fuels for uses other than electricity is a much harder problem to solve. Norway has an aggressive transportation plan in place that calls for the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and biofuels factor heavily into that plan.

Making Our Own Biofuel

As a fish oil manufacturer, we’re in a unique position to make our biofuel using the byproducts from our fish oil processing. In fact, we can run our entire operation on leftover fish fat—not something many businesses can say.

Not only does this cut down on the amount of waste we produce, it saves us from having to purchase large quantities of biofuel (or petroleum-based diesel fuel) from outside commercial sources to power our main generator.

We’ve been making our own biofuel at Nordic Pharma for a few years. But in 2017 we calculated that replacing our older diesel generator with a newer, more fuel-efficient model would eliminate much of our dependence on supplemental fuel sources. That calculation paid off. With the new generator installed, our total fuel requirements are now half what they once were, and are easily met with our homemade “fish fuel.” We’re even able to sell some of our surplus biofuel to neighboring businesses, including a kindergarten and a hospital.

We definitely see the use of our own biofuel as a noteworthy accomplishment, but we know there’s still room for us to further minimize our environmental impact. Our success in reducing our carbon footprint at Nordic Pharma has inspired us to look for other ways to be sustainable in all that we do.

Some of our everyday business practices—only sourcing fish that get used in their entirety; working exclusively with fisheries that are certified sustainable; and selling our products in recyclable containers—have long been part of our sustainability story. Not to mention that Nordic Naturals’ LEED Gold-certified headquarters in Watsonville, California has won Green Business recognition for its use of energy and design.

While we’re proud of these accomplishments, we’re always considering new ways to conserve natural resources, and how to further minimize our energy use. We realize it’s a long road to complete sustainability, but it’s a road we’re eager to travel.

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