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DS Smith boosts circular economy initiatives with €115m investment

Katie Nichol

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DS Smith boosts circular economy initiatives with €115m investment

Paper packaging supplier DS Smith is doubling its R&D and innovation spend for the next five years as it looks to ramp up its circularity efforts. The group is channeling more than €115m into its new R&D and innovation program, which includes the creation of a testing center to speed up prototyping and the development of new materials.

DS Smith is investing upwards of €115m in R&D and innovation over the next five years as part of its new sustainable development program. By 2023, the group is aiming to offer 100% recyclable packaging, and by 2025, to replace 1 billion plastic elements used in e-commerce and supermarkets.

"Our way of life is changing rapidly and how we care for the environment has become a top priority. We are investing now more than ever to be at the forefront of this change to offer our customers more environmentally friendly packaging,” DS Smith Group CEO Miles Roberts commented in a statement.

Prototyping push & new materials

Unit 17, a new center for testing and prototyping to be created in the UK, will collaborate with the group’s 50 innovation centers and its R&D partners, with an eye on speeding up the development of next-generation technologies.

In the area of new materials, DS Smith is ramping up investments to develop alternative solutions, notably to replace plastic films in food packaging with recyclable, translucent packaging and is also looking into alternative natural fibers. Barrier technologies, such as the supplier’s recent Touchguard pilot program for virus-resistant packaging, is also a focus, as is the analysis of recycled paper and corrugated cardboard fibers to optimize their strength, resilience and recyclable properties.

Waste reduction is another priority. In partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 700 designers at DS Smith will be trained in circular design. The group is also focusing on natural paper fiber reinforcement, a technology that removes excess fiber from boxes while improving their overall strength and resilience. Analysis of e-commerce delivery supply chains is also part of the program, including measuring the impact of gravitational force on packages in transit to avoid damaged packages and reduce waste.

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