2021 - a year for unleashing global action on sustainability

It’s been a busy start to the year and for us, much of that has been driven by the changing relationship we are seeing between consumers and packaging.

Whether it is the growth in online shopping or a personal desire to be greener and more ethical in our consumption, we are seeing significant shifts in how we all relate to packaging materials. And as we build on these experiences, this year presents a unique opportunity for all of us: to shake up the green and circular economy agenda and be bold in our thinking.

A recent article in Forbes noted that 2021 was the ‘Year of the Package’ and we continue to see the impact of that every day. At DS Smith, we only make fully recyclable paper-based packaging and are committed to a future free of plastics. As Europe’s biggest recycler of paper and cardboard, we are also at the forefront of trends around waste collection and recycling. DS Smith recognised its responsibility to collect and reuse its materials many years ago and we cemented this in our business model long before the circular economy came to the fore.

Miles article.jpgLong-term planning has always been critical for businesses when embedding sustainability across the value chain, but in the changing times we live in today we must also be nimble and responsive to the world around us. Every day, we are working with customers to respond to the rapidly changing needs of the consumer. This year, with COP26 on the horizon, the question for many will be how we marry new societal trends driven by the COVID-19 pandemic with action required to tackle the climate emergency.

I am hopeful COP26 will be the catalyst that business and governments require to accelerate progress on climate and build a more sustainable economic recovery. To deliver sustainable change it must be systemic – that is cross borders, cross industries and cross cultures. We must align government strategy with business strategy so investments in clean energy and circular infrastructure, such as urban recycling, deliver long lasting change that brings about real societal progress.

At DS Smith, we are trying to make improvements to how we operate day by day. With our 100% recyclable product, our global plastic replacement programme and Circular Design Principles, we have made a good start but we need help of many others to keep progressing.