DS Smith advances testing for fibre-based cardboard packaging made of straw, seaweed, and more
DS Smith is pushing ahead in exploring outside-the-box options for the creation of paper and cardboard packaging, including the testing of materials typically seen in gardens, parks, and beaches.
In doing so, the company is working to give new life to alternative fibres for paper and cardboard, including daisies, straw, miscanthus (grass), cocoa shells, and seaweed – as part of its $140 million investment in research and development to accelerate its work in the circular economy. The program will look at the fibre potential and plastic replacement capabilities of a number of materials in order to diversify the range of sources DS Smith uses for packaging.
DS Smith is also exploring the use of annual plants such as daisies and agricultural wastes for their fibre properties and potential paper performance. The company has also undertaken trials exploring how seaweed may be used as a raw material to design out problem plastics from cartons, paper wrap, and cardboard tray packaging.
DS Smith is experimenting with cocoa shells for carton boards in chocolate packaging and is looking at other materials with a good environmental profile. For example, agricultural waste in the form of straw, and annual plants like hemp or miscanthus, which in some cases might require significantly less energy and water to produce than some traditional paper-making materials.
DS Smith has already tested using seaweed fibres as a raw material in a range of packaging solutions, from cartons to paper wraps to cardboard trays. The seaweed fibres demonstrated unique properties capable of harnessing plastic's benefits as a barrier coating for food products.
"As a leader in sustainability, delivering real change is always top of mind. We know that producing recyclable paper-based options alone is not enough, and protecting natural resources is crucial to enabling sustainable development," says Alison Berg, sustainability manager at DS Smith. "By pursuing more renewable resources for packaging, we are seeking to actively reduce our use of finite natural resources, and will continue to change packaging as we know it."
The exploration of alternative fibres is part of the sustainable packaging provider's pledge to optimize fibre use for individual supply chains in 100 percent of its packaging solutions by 2025, as part of its "Now and Next" strategy. By 2023, DS Smith will manufacture 100 percent reusable or recyclable packaging and its aim is that by 2030 all its packaging will be recycled or reused.