From smoked delights to streamed revival: The renaissance of wild salmon

This project designs a circular economy system to upcycle charcoal in the smoked salmon industry to produce organic fertilizers. And it adds value to the materials in a manner that can restore the natural habitat of wild salmon.

Every year, the production of smoked salmon in the UK generates hundreds of tons of charcoal, which currently lacks efficient disposal methods.

Through my research and interviews, I’ve learned that wild salmon face threats from fungal diseases linked to rising water temperatures. By planting trees along the upstream riverbanks, we can create shade and cool the waters. However, the challenge lies in the soil’s nutritional deficiency, and the use of chemical fertilizers is not an option.

Thus, I’ve developed a comprehensive system grounded in circular economy principles and a brand design that bridges food production with environmental conservation. This approach seeks to establish a sustainable balance between ecological and economic gains.

Keywords: Circular Economy System, Smoked Salmon Industry, Charcoal Fertilizer, Service Design


Case studies
Interview with UGIE Salmon
Interview with JCS Fish Limited
Sample of charcoal and wood chips
Analysis of smoked salmon process

Based on a case study of the local food industry, I discovered that the smoked salmon sector has the potential for circular economy design. After interviewing a smoked salmon company, I obtained preliminary data about the smoked salmon industry.

                                                                      Existing Value Flow Map

I utilized the existing value flow map to analyze the information obtained from primary research and found that there is a loss of value in the form of charcoal by-products in the smoked salmon industry. After calculating the data on annual charcoal waste gathered from previous interviews, I discovered that the charcoal in the smoked salmon industry has the potential for utilization.

Following that, I used brainstorming analysis to identify stakeholders related to the smoked salmon industry that could be contacted for further research. Subsequently, I conducted a series of interviews with them to discover potential design points for the next steps.

During my communication with Findhorn, Nairn, and Lossie River Trust, I discovered that a current issue they are facing could potentially be addressed using the charcoal produced by the smoked salmon industry.

Last year, hundreds of wild salmon were found dead in the Forres river basin due to a fungal infection. This was attributed to the yearly rise in local river temperatures. As such, the best solution is to plant trees along the riverbanks to create shade, naturally reducing the water temperature. 

However, due to the upstream basin's infertile soil and the inability to use chemical fertilizers, the unmet need is to improve soil quality without harming the environment.
Therefore, using fish waste and charcoal to produce fertilizer as a solution to the soil issue is feasible.


I gained a preliminary understanding of the project participants


It assists me in analyzing the role each stakeholder plays within the system
CIRCULAR ECONOMY MODEL The circular economy model I designed reflects the main structure of this project in terms of the circular economy. 

Local producers require salmon and oak for production and produce fertilizer through by-products; the local initiative needs fertilizer and saplings to protect the natural habitat of wild salmon, thereby increasing the number of wild salmon; the local industry needs fertilizer to plant trees, thereby providing saplings and local oak.

The entire model forms a complete cycle, and the value of this cycle is the sustainable restoration of the local salmon ecology and the raw material supply chain for local oak and wild salmon.


The service design blueprint I created can help various stakeholders understand their position within the entire project process and recognize the exchange of benefits within the system.

Package design of fertilizer
Click hereor...