DS Smith invests $140M toward developing recyclable packaging built for e-commerce

The corrugated packager also will build a testing facility in the UK and make all of its packaging recyclable in the next few years.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Corrugated packaging supplier DS Smith is putting $140 million toward research and development of materials that will add to a circular economy.

The Atlanta-based company is going to develop new materials to replace plastics and build a testing program to strengthen corrugated cardboard and reduce G-force shock in home delivery packaging. DS Smith has set a goal to make all of its packaging recyclable within two years and replace a billion pieces of supermarket and e-commerce plastic by 2025. DS Smith joins many retailers with similar packaging goals as detailed in Store Brandsrecent packaging report.

The R&D money will also include the creation of a prototyping and testing facility in the United Kingdom, expected to launch within the next five years to work with research partners globally.

“We continue to focus on reducing our impact of our operations on the environment but importantly, we are able to contribute to wider society by providing circular packaging solutions that eliminates waste and re-uses valuable resources,” said DS Smith CEO Miles Roberts.

Adding to the company’s drive to develop sustainable packaging that is fiber-based and fully recyclable, DS Smith plans to measure G-force impacts on packages in transit, to reduce waste and prevent damaged parcels. The company will insert a live GPS tracking sensor into a parcel or pallet in transit to measure G-force — vibration, motion and impact — providing instant feedback on the materials, carrier handling, road conditions and other effects on the box throughout its trip in the supply chain.

With the data, DS Smith can then make recommendations on fiber usage, required strength and performance of packaging to its clients.

The research program also expects to:

  • Accelerate investment in new materials, including fully recyclable, translucent packaging to replace plastic windows in sandwich and ready meals packs, and research into alternative natural fibers and new packaging designs, such as plastic and bubble wrap replacement;
  • Expand its barrier technologies, such as the company’s recent piloting of “Touchguard,” a packaging coating that resists the transmission of viruses, and its patented Greencoat, a moisture-resistant alternative to wax coating; and
  • Analyze different fibers in recycled paper and corrugated packaging to optimize its resilience and recyclable properties.

As well as conventional target areas of reducing carbon emissions, water reduction and less waste to landfill, the sustainable packaging company has challenged itself to cut 250,000 heavy truck journeys from the roads, replace a billion pieces plastic from supermarkets and online shopping and educate five million young people in the circular economy.