To better accommodate the constraints linked to online sales, DS Smith Packaging is giving the corrugated cardboard box an overhaul by exploring avenues that take into account sustainability and new functions, including connectivity.
DS Smith Packaging is taking a two-pronged approach to e-commerce, one that combines eco-design and functionality. Playing on the strengths of the material, the manufacturer is offering all-cardboard packs with insert systems that replace polystyrene and other plastics.
Luxury brands are one target for this mono-material offer. Camus cognac chose the solution for its Sidecar cocktail kit featuring a range of fragile products in various shapes: a cognac in its case, a bottle of triple sec, a shaker, and even a vacuum-packed lemon. The box and insert are entirely made of recycled cardboard, and offset printing showcases the content while telling the brand’s story.
Climacell is another mono-material variant. Developed in partnership with TemperPack, it is geared to products requiring thermal protection, such as fine foods or take-away. The pack is lined with an insulating material made of paper and other bio-sourced components offering brands a virtuous and recyclable replacement for polystyrene.
Resistance is a key focus in these developments. “The e-commerce supply chain differs from the retail supply chain as the pack might undergo up to 50 manipulations during its journey,” notes Christophe Furet, Communications Manager for DS Smith Packaging in France. “This goes from the factory to a national logistics depot, to a regional depot and then a local depot, until it reaches what we call ‘the last mile.’ And that’s if everything goes well. Because if the client isn’t home or they want to return the package, it begins another cycle.”
DS Smith is studying how to avoid damage throughout the product’s journey at its DISCS (Drop Impact Shock Crush) laboratories in England, Belgium, and Germany—and perhaps soon in France.
Connecting packages is another solution that can provide a wealth of information on the product journey. Developed with the ParceLive service by IoT specialist Hanhaa, packs equipped with GPS chips collect detailed information about risks encountered, allowing the company to determine exactly when the package received an impact or experienced a fall, for example. This system can help to reinforce the package or, conversely, to simplify it — data analysis sometimes reveals that resistance needs were over-estimated, meaning that more material was used than necessary, with the resulting impact on costs.
DS Smith is also working on more cost-effective printed electronics solutions. Created using carbon inks printed directly on the cardboard, these chips will seamlessly integrate the paper recycling stream.