How can the packaging industry transition to the Circular Economy?

The circular economy is a model that is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

There is an undeniable desire from companies to help with the climate crisis and meet their sustainability goals, and packaging is a great first-point for companies looking to evolve their sustainability practices in their supply chain.

To help support companies on this journey, our Circular Design Principles provide a great framework to design for recyclability, design out waste and pollution, create packaging suited to a circular economy and make it easier to provide labelling to help consumers recycle more.

How is DS Smith transforming the way it works?

We are circular by nature – we recycle used paper, turn that into packaging and then collect used corrugated packaging to start the loop again. And we can do all that in as little as 14 days.

Our latest Now and Next Sustainability Strategy is a great step forward with ambitious targets; designed to tackle some of the biggest sustainability challenges facing society today. One target in particular focuses on closing the loop through better design, which demonstrates our commitment to training all of our designers on circular design principles and ensuring we manufacture 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2023. One of our real focal points is eliminating single use plastics, our designers have already created sustainable, fibre-based alternatives that will take 1 billion pieces of plastic off supermarket shelves by 2025.

How is DS Smith’s Circular Design Metrics driving sustainability?

The Circular Design Metrics is a breakthrough industry tool that allows brands to rate the circularity of your packaging, making it possible to see and compare the performance of packaging design across 8 key indicators. By quantifying how circular a product is, it allows us to see the opportunities to improve on our solutions, for example by ensuring the product is fully supply chain optimised.

If our metrics identify that a solution is not fully recyclable, our designers are able to find alternative design solutions to eliminate non-recyclable components of packaging. The end benefits of the Circular Design Metrics are ensuring that our customer’s packaging is as circular as possible and that their packaging can be a part of their sustainable business model and a sustainable future.

Is the partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation changing the culture of DS Smith?

As a strategic partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we have been able to invite the leading thinkers on the circular economy to challenge our business and to help drive this agenda further, for ourselves and for our customers.

Our work with the Foundation is designed to lead the packaging industry towards a more circular economy and key focuses include innovation that allows us to turbocharge circular economy design, such as the Circular Design Principles. Developed in collaboration with the Foundation, they offer huge value to this, and other projects, with their own knowledge and insight, a strong network and the ability to amplify our stories through their global reach.

Is DS Smith on target to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050?

While paper and packaging is one of the hardest sectors to de-carbonise, we were delighted to commit to a science-based target by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050 to reinforce our leadership in the circular economy and climate action.

The launch of our new sustainability vision and strategy, Now and Next, maps out ambitious commitments and goals for the next decade to meet our goals. We make sustainable packaging that is fibre-based and fully recyclable and believe that through combined leadership in the circular economy and climate action, we are uniquely positioned to have a real impact in helping to reduce the rise in global temperatures.

How is DS Smith helping its customers become more sustainable businesses?

We are not only setting ambitious climate targets for ourselves; but strengthening our commitment to delivering more circular solutions for our customers and wider society.

That’s why we continue to partner with our employees, customers, communities and stakeholders to keep materials in use, design out waste and regenerate natural systems, while continuing to focus on CO? reduction, protecting biodiversity and reducing water consumption.

Our customers look to us to challenge outdated linear models and help guide them through the process to deliver solutions that drive sustainability performance.

What is DS Smith doing to help the next generation become more sustainable?

At DS Smith, we want to lead the way towards a more circular economy, through engaging and educating our people, our industry and the next generation.

As part of our Now and Next Strategy we have committed to engaging with 5 million young people by 2030 on the circular economy and circular lifestyles.

We will engage through our partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, through community programmes, and through delivery of school lesson plans and outreach programmes, both face to face and through digital platforms.

How is the growth in e-commerce impacting your business?

Our customers are largely FMCG companies that produce goods increasingly via e-commerce channels and they have always required an innovative and flexible partner with world class supply chains and scale like DS Smith.

Following the pandemic, many organisations were forced to revise their business models in favour of e-commerce and our innovative solutions have been heavily sought out by customers during an often harrowing process for those businesses.

As e-commerce continues to boom and we operate in a new shopping age it is clear is that online shopping is going to become a greater part of our lives. For many retailers that means adopting a hybrid model and, with the eco-conscious consumer remaining ever more prevalent, it will be those companies that implement sustainable packaging alongside the transformation of their business models that will ultimately succeed.

How does DS Smith support local communities in its various sites around the world?

With support from the DS Smith Charitable Foundation, we continue to develop our community programme themes of inspiring the next generation through circular lifestyles and protecting our environment through biodiversity.

In 2020/21, 57 projects to improve biodiversity were funded by the Charitable Foundation, with a further 47 applications in progress, from wildflower meadows and community gardens to bug hotels and ponds.

Most recently, we united with our strategic customer Britvic for a Biodiversity Volunteering Day. Located at our Impact Centre in Fordham, 38 employees across the two multinational organisations came together for a full day programme of activities which will improve the environment for insects and birds and enhance biodiversity; that was a true demonstration of aligned values.


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