TomKat Improves Seafood Logistics with Sustainable Packaging and NFC

An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Polystyrene Packaging

Temperature-sensitive products such as perishable foods and pharmaceuticals are at their greatest risk in transit. Maintaining low temperatures without interruption can be a challenge.

Up to now, it has not been easy to obtain real-time information about the status of each shipment and detect interruptions in the cold chain early enough to avoid negative impacts on the quality of the product.

The TomKat KoolPak which uses three NFC tags addresses and remedies this need.

Ghost Fishing Gear Tracking

NFC allows for Seamless Track & Trace Throughout the Supply Chain.

Polystyrene boxes are designed for single use only

Polystyrene boxes are designed for single use only and represent an enormous strain on the environment.

Many industries rely primarily on polystyrene boxes for transport to keep their products safe. While they are cheap, lightweight, and thermally effective, these boxes are designed for single use only and thus represent an enormous strain on the environment. The seafood industry in particular is responsible for approximately half a billion single-use polystyrene fish boxes entering landfills and polluting the oceans every year.

As awareness of the environmental, economic and health risks caused by single-use plastic products increases, governments around the world are slowly phasing out polystyrene packaging in favor of more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives.

However, the market had provided no viable replacements which could match polystyrene’s qualities until recently. Many recyclable products currently in use not only rely on biodegradation, which has its own environmental problems, but are still single- use and neither thermally efficient nor stackable and durable enough to compensate for the loss in storage space.

To reduce the use of polystyrene in the industry and provide more transparency throughout the transportation process without sacrificing cost efficiency and thermal performance, the Australian company TomKat Global Solutions developed their own packaging system: the TomKat KoolPak.

The KoolPak’s greatest asset is its sustainability. Life cycle analysis shows that each container can be easily used more than 10 times, with some trials yielding an even greater number of re-uses of up to more than 20 times.

This means that with just a few uses, it becomes cost equivalent to a comparatively cheaper polystyrene box, which can only be used once. Even at the end of its life cycle, over 90 % of the material can be recycled into a new container, leaving only a very light footprint on the manufacturer’s side. This includes the NFC sensor tags, which can be removed and reattached to new KoolPaks.

The temperature monitoring function provides an incentive for clients to keep track of their boxes at all times and to make sure that they are returned for recycling after they have finished their rotational re-uses.

Seafood is customarily transported in plastic liners inside polystyrene boxes.

Seafood is customarily transported in plastic liners inside polystyrene boxes.


  • Founded in 2007 by Tom and Kath Long
  • Headquarters on Kurrimine Beach, north of Queensland, Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef
  • Won the Queensland Seafood Awards Small Business Category in 2018
  • TomKat Global Solutions founded in 2018


  • First created in 2018
  • 570 by 370 by 370 mm
  • 3 components: Thermal liner, Base, Lid
  • 3 NFC tags
    • 2 regular recyclable NFC tags
    • 1 reusable batteryless temperature sensing NFC tag
  • Reusable up to 25 times

Track & Trace with NFC Technology in Cold Chain Logistics

Battery-less NFC temperature sensor tags allows for the scanning of temperature without opening the lid, thus simultaneously providing tamper protection.

Track & Trace with NFC Technology

The TomKat KoolPak is a durable, lightweight, thermally insulated container that consists of three replaceable components: lid, base, and thermal liner. Each of these components has been fitted with a battery-less NFC temperature sensor tag developed by SAG, which allows for the scanning of the temperature without the need to open the lid, which simultaneously provides tamper protection.

This ensures that the fresh goods in the KoolPak are genuine and have not been taken out and exchanged during transit. In tandem with a software developed by LUK and gate scanning equipment provided by Feig Electronics, clients can monitor each KoolPak throughout every step of the supply chain, prove its provenance to the authorities, and ensure the safety and freshness of its content at any time.

To retrieve information about the contents of the box, clients only need to download the KoolPak app on their smartphone. This block chain tracking and traceability function has the potential to provide data along the entire supply chain from producer to retail.

The TomKat KoolPak is a durable, lightweight, thermally insulated container.

The TomKat KoolPak is a durable, lightweight, thermally insulated container that consists of three replaceable components: lid, base, and thermal liner.

Batteryless NFC Temp Sensor Tag

Data from the NFC tag can be tokenized and converted into a QR code, which, for instance, can be added to a menu in a restaurant.

Clients use the KoolPak app on their smartphone to retrieve information about the contents of the box.

KoolPak Vs Polystyrene

In addition to the software, the KoolPak offers numerous physical advantages compared to less sustainable packaging. Due to its durability and flat pack design, it can be stacked more efficiently than polystyrene boxes, thereby reducing transport costs, storage space, and carbon footprint. An anti-bacterial inner lining provides additional protection from contamination, ensuring that goods can be transported by plane without the need for a single use liner bag which would be required for polystyrene boxes.

With a capacity of 25 kg, it provides 25 % more capacity than an equivalent sized polystyrene box due to its thinner walls. Although the KoolPak was designed primarily for the seafood industry, it can be used for the transport and storage of a wide variety of goods, including all types of perishable and temperature-sensitive foods, horticultural products, pharmaceuticals, and even organs to be delivered for transplants.


  • Three NFC tags per KoolPak
  • Reusable and can be reattached to new KoolPak boxes
  • Captures data including type of goods, temperature, shock
  • NFC validates use, reuse and post use recycling

Contact: Henry Lee, Deputy Sales Director, SAG


  • headquartered in Taichung, Taiwan
  • founded in 1999
  • 480 employees
  • annual turnover of approx. $40 Mio.
  • member of RAIN RFID and NFC Forum

RFID Specialist SAG Develops battery-less NFC Temperature Sensor Tag

The NFC tag has evolved in four stages.

Through trial and error, the NFC tag has evolved in four stages, from the very first model (far left) to the the tag currently used in all KoolPaks (far right).

RFID Specialist SAG

SAG has been instrumental in providing the NFC solution for TomKat Line Fish. The Taiwanese company has been founded in 1999 and is known as an enabler for especially challenging tagging solutions.

From the beginning of their cooperation, TomKat’s NFC requirements focused on a battery-less temperature sensor tag. The challenges for SAG were threefold:

  1. The mobile phone was intended to be the primary reading device.
  2. Multiple layers of material were to be read through.
  3. This was clearly a no-battery application.

TomKat evaluated other alternatives to NFC such as QR code and barcode. However, only NFC provides an effective way of registering the three KoolPak components as an assembled unit to a data base or blockchain in battery-less form.

SAG were introduced to TomKat as the 'best in business’ not only from a technical & development perspective when it comes to NFC solutions. Another benefit is under- one-roof manufacturing and SAG's ability to supply in volume.

SAG tailor-made several antennas to ensure multiple-layers reading consistency and helped TomKat build a test setting with which to ensure accuracy of temperature sensing capability.

SAG for Sustainability

SAG’s goals for the future encompass empowering a regenerative planet, unlocking the possibilities of a circular economy and building a sustainable ecosystem. RFID innovations are key in that: they advance circular product flows across industrial applications, perishable commodities, and consumables. It opens up new solutions for reducing packaging and minimizing waste.

SAG for Sustainability

SAG Securitag Assembly Group designs high quality RFID transponders for a sustainable future.

Interview with Tom and Kath Long


NFC allows for Seamless Track & Trace Throughout the Supply Chain

Tom and Kath Long, COO and Founder of TomKat Line Fish respectively, share in an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global insights into the use of NFC sensor technology on sustainable packaging for cold chain logistics.

Tom & Kath Long are COO and Founder of TomKat Line Fish respectively.

Kath Long: Environmental sustainability and traceability have been founding principles of TomKat from its humble beginnings. TomKat Line Fish was first established in 2007 as a fishing business located by Kurrimine Beach in the far north of Queensland, close to the Great Barrier Reef. The main product is wild reef fish, which is caught by line, processed on-site, and marketed to customers throughout the country.

It was clear to both Tom and I, that the fishing industry was in dire need of sustainable packaging alternatives to polystyrene boxes. This lack of more sustainable alternatives to polystyrene boxes on the global market inspired us to start our own packaging company, TomKat Global Solutions, in 2018. That same year, the TomKat KoolPak was born. We didn't start the project to make money, but because it was needed.

Tom Long: In fact, according to the Australian government’s National Plastics Plan 2021, polystyrene in food and beverage containers and consumer packaging will be phased out by December 2022. By 2025, 100 % of packaging – including packaging used for the commercial transport of goods – must be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. To achieve this goal, we aim to help existing polystyrene manufacturers make the transition to sustainable packaging by allowing them to lease the IP and produce KoolPak boxes in their own facilities.

Tom Long: We gave a lot of thought at the start of the project about how we were going to provide traceability with the KoolPak. We’ve looked at barcode and QR code technology initially. These technologies proved problematic when the KoolPak was assembled. Then we came across NFC technology and were immediately taken with the its capabilities – especially in combination with the smartphone. We saw early on the value of provenance, where everyone wants to have some recognition where their product has gone or where they’ve been harvested from for example. NFC technology with temperature sensing capabilities was the answer.

Tom Long: By using the NFC sensor tags and the monitoring software, local fishermen, international customers and official authorities can be sure that the provenance of the products is accounted for. Kath and I see West Africa as an important potential market for the KoolPak for example. The high temperatures there make inland transport of perishable goods challenging. The track and trace function of the NFC tags can be used to detect and prevent fraud and other illegal activities along the supply chain.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to geographic areas such as the Pacific Islands, which have access to large amounts of high quality seafood, but limited access to the global market due to the high prevalence of illegal fishing.

Kath Long: The TomKat KoolPak was originally designed for the transport of live, fresh, chilled and frozen products. This even includes dangerous goods with a mass no greater than 25 kg, and also has potential for use in the pharmaceutical industry. The KoolPak can be used to transport any kind of temperature- sensitive goods, and this of course includes vaccines, blood bags and even organs, for example. There is currently only one size of KoolPak available. However, the ultimate goal is to have two more standard sizes available: One smaller e-commerce box that is well suited for the home meal delivery market, and one longer sized box that is more suited for the salmon industry.

Tom Long: We also plan to expand own production capabilities and to employ 130 people on a full-time basis with the goal of producing one million KoolPaks by 2023. With the support of all three branches of the Australian government – federal, regional, and local – and the cooperation with other companies, we estimate a circulation of 23 million KoolPaks by 2024. The ultimate goal is to completely replace polystyrene packaging for the transportation and storage of perishable products not only on national, but on a global level.

Winners 2018 Queensland Seafood Awards Small Business Category!

TomKat Line Fish: winners 2018 Queensland Seafood Awards Small Business Category.

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