Wednesday, 24 August 2022 11:54

DS Smith packaging giant explores plastic-free alternatives from straw, hemp, cocoa, seaweed and daises

Packaging made from daisies, hemp, straw, cocoa shells or seaweed could be landing on your doorstep in the future as DS Smith have announced that as part of their £100 million R&D programme, they'll be trialling using fibres from these sources to create the sustainable plastic-free packaging of the future.

DS Smith materials1DS Smith is 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 carton, paper wrap and cardboard tray packaging.

The DS Smith Innovation Team is also experimenting with cocoa shells for carton board 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 significantly¹ less energy and water to produce than some traditional paper-making materials.

Thomas Ferge, Paper and Board Development Director at DS Smith said: "With the strain on the planet more evident than ever, our research has the potential to lessen pressure on forests and protect the planet's natural resources.

"As well as looking at how we optimise the standard recycled paper fibres that we already use, we're very excited by the prospect of how other resources such as miscanthus, hemp, agricultural wastes and seaweed could be used in the next generation of packaging solutions. This is all part of our goal to make the most of every single fibre we use by 2030."

DS Smith has been trialling such novel materials with research partners. In an pilot programme, DS Smith and The Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) explored how the properties of straw and seaweed could potentially work as a packaging product in comparison to more traditional materials including recycled hardwood and softwood. Novel processes indicate up to 50% less energy and 95% less water than traditional pulping processes.

DS Smith cocoa packagingAs part of DS Smith's Now and Next sustainability strategy, the company has an ambition to optimise fibre use for individual supply chains in 100 per cent of its new packaging solutions by 2025 and optimise every fibre for every supply chain by 2030. DS Smith's fibre optimisation work and wider sustainability progress can be found in its latest sustainability report.

DS Smith is a provider of fibre-based packaging worldwide, which is supported by recycling and papermaking operations. It plays a central role in the value chain across sectors including e-commerce, fast moving consumer goods and industrials.

Headquartered in London and a member of the FTSE 100, DS Smith operates in 34 countries employing around 30,000 people and is a Strategic Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a pioneering organisation for the Circular Economy. Its history can be traced back to the box-making businesses started in England in the 1940s by the Smith family.