Photo of schrimps

Sustainability prize for study on sustainable development in the Swedish seafood industry


Entrepreneurship Master's student Ruvini De Silva investigated how sustainable development can be combined with circular value creation in the Swedish seafood industry. Now she has won the University of Gothenburg's Sustainability Thesis Award (GUSTA) for her contribution.

Ruvini presenting her thesis and findings at the GUSTA award ceremon
Ruvini presenting her thesis and findings at the GUSTA award ceremony
Ruvini with her award diploma

The GUSTA Award recognises students at the University of Gothenburg who have made outstanding contributions to the field of sustainable development. Ruvini De Silva, from Sri Lanka, graduated from the Master's programme in Knowledge-based Entrepreneurship at the School of Business, Economics and Law in June 2023. She wrote her thesis "Circular value creation in the Swedish seafood processing industry for human consumption: status, challenges and opportunities" and is one of the recipients of this year's GUSTA award.

Today, a significant portion of the world's population suffers from hunger and malnutrition, while the rest wastes food in production and consumption, especially seafood.

- I witnessed the scale of food waste when I worked as a sushi chef. It was an eye-opener. I think the best place to start being sustainable is at home. I took an idea from my kitchen and turned salmon leftovers into valuable products in simple ways, like extracting oil by cooking, baking, drying and grinding. This home-based initiative shows the potential for sustainable practices, from fish oil to chips and powder.

Jars of extracted oil
Jars of extracted oil

However, we need to find responsible solutions to the challenges in production and consumption, in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 12 (Responsible consumption and production).

- In my thesis, I investigate how sustainable development can be combined with circular value creation in the Swedish seafood industry. I identify barriers and opportunities for future value creation.

Ruvini studied five seafood processing companies, looking at food waste and how practices can be improved to, for example, make waste food marketable, leading to several related SDGs (1, 2, 5 and 17).

- A common challenge faced by seafood processing companies is moving towards a circular system and adapting to new production methods. Collaboration is one solution, as one company's waste can become another's raw material, creating valuable new products.

The results show different approaches to circular value creation and Ruvini presents several suggestions for improving sustainability, including waste prevention, waste disposal through animal feed, and composting for biogas production.

The results and conclusions presented are likely to be of direct use in improving sustainability and adding value to the seafood industry. The focus is on circular value chains in the seafood industry to contribute to sustainable development and to guide companies towards more sustainable practices.

Future plans include social entrepreneurship

Ruvini has just joined Upcyclr, which is an upcycling company in Sweden.

- I will be working as a researcher for one of their projects on seafood upcycling research and development team.

Ruvini is also running her own business, focusing on sustainable textiles, which she started as part of her Master's studies.

- My current project focuses on social entrepreneurship for women empowerment in Sri Lanka. All the products are processed by low-income families and my idea is to encourage them to promote their batik products in Scandinavian countries. Hemtex Sweden and Kid Norway have accepted this as their new social project.

Ruvini's dream, however, is to do a PhD and become a researcher. Specifically, it focuses on the food and textile industries, integrating business development, innovation and entrepreneurship.

- I can have more impact on sustainable and social issues through industry-academia collaboration. Identifying problems and solutions is one of my favourite tasks. Also, I am personally trying to help people in my country with my textile projects to bridge them to the world and help them for better income.


Circular value creation in the Swedish seafood processing industry for human consumption: status, challenges, and opportunities



BY: Kajsa Folmues Strandberg

About the GUSTA Award

The University of Gothenburg's Sustainability Thesis Award, GUSTA, recognises and rewards outstanding theses on topics related to sustainable development within the University of Gothenburg. The award aims to motivate students to critically engage with sustainability issues and to seek more knowledge for a sustainable world. The award is open to all undergraduate, master and diploma students in all programmes at the university, and the winners are selected by a scientific committee of professors from different faculties at the University of Gothenburg. In addition to high scientific quality, the evaluation criteria include holistic integration of different dimensions of sustainable development, originality, critical thinking, and contribution to current knowledge in sustainable development.