A look back at the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns and how we responded
As we mark the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdowns across Europe, we reflect on the last 12 months. Since the pandemic began, like all businesses, focuses and priorities had to shift at an exponential rate.
As the virus spread, organisations were forced to review their operations and adapt to the needs of a new world. As a critical part of the supply chain we worked hard to ensure we continued to operate efficiently and safely and we continued supporting our customers to meet the demands of huge shifts in consumer behaviour.
So one year ahead, where are we now? We take a look at the contributions our people have made over the last year and the trends that lie ahead in a post Covid-19 world.
Five ways we ‘Redefined Packaging for a Covid World’ in 2020
- We developed essential provisions boxes to support with the COVID-19 effort.
- We supported the community, through donations of hundreds of thousands of Euros and over half a million items.
- DS Smith partnered with Touchguard to develop virus-safeguarded sustainable cardboard packaging.
- We supported the delivery of the first Covid-19 vaccine safely and securely to hospitals and care homes across the UK.
- We created a variety of DIY cardboard stand table solutions for home office working .
A look back at our COVID-19 response
Our core Purpose of ‘Redefining Packaging a Changing World’ has never been more relevant than during the pandemic. From Portugal to Poland, the UK to the USA, we have been living out our purpose and supporting the fight against the pandemic since the beginning.
How has the world changed?
There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed the world as we once knew it. The need to remain safe in our homes during lockdown periods has shifted societal outlook and consumer behavior dramatically, and with many of these trends predicted to stick around post pandemic, we must be prepared to continue in our mission to adapt our supply chains, revolutionise our technology and innovate our products to support this.
We live in an age where we demand goods to be delivered where we want, when we want, in a way that fits our busy lifestyles. People want more choice, they want everything to be even more convenient. But we want to have less impact on the planet too. It’s our purpose to help our customers respond to changing shopping habits with the sustainable packaging solutions that society needs.
One of the biggest impacts generated by the pandemic was reflected in the remarkable rise in e-commerce. A record 1 billion online orders were made during the last Christmas period, and with this trend predicted to continue post pandemic, we must act fast and ensure we have the solutions ready to support our customers and to protect our planet.
The impact of COVID-19 on sustainability
DS Smith and Ipsos MORI, a global leader in market research, conducted a study that reveals despite the global health crisis, shoppers still have their eye on the environment; with 85% of buyers wanting to buy products that use as little packaging as possible, and almost a third (29%) disclosing that they have stopped purchasing specific brands on the grounds that their packaging was not sustainable.
Regarding consumer perceptions of sustainability, the research concludes that whilst habits may have changed, attitudes have not, and it is these attitudes which continue to evolve. Notably, we discuss the extent to which consumers continue to prioritize sustainable packaging, and the willingness to act in favour of sustainable packaging has marginally increased. The report emphasises the commercial risk for both brands and e-commerce retailers, in the absence of sustainable packaging and just how difficult it has become to intercept the shopper journey.
Despite a rise in importance associated with products being ‘packaged using hygienic packaging’, this does not mean that brands and retailers can overlook their environmental efforts.
The future of the industry, post pandemic
As we look to the future, we will continue to drive forward with our ‘Purpose’ to continue ‘Redefining Packaging for a Changing World’. This core purpose is at the heart of everything we do, and will always be the inspiration behind the strides we take as a business to support our customers, protect our environment and future generations. As the world changes, we will also continue to evolve with it, with circularity, digitalisation, innovation and sustainable packaging remaining as a pivotal part of this journey.