R&D Spend Doubled to Accelerates our Circular Economy Strategy

DS Smith, the FTSE 100 sustainable packaging company, today announced a £100m R&D and innovation package to accelerate its work in the Circular Economy. The new investment over five years includes the creation of a new breakthrough technologies hub in the UK, new materials development to replace plastics and a pilot to gauge G-force shock in home delivery packaging.

The increased investment underpins the sustainable packaging company’s new Circular Economy led Sustainability strategy which pledges to offer all customers 100% recyclable packaging within two years and replace a billion pieces of supermarket and e-commerce plastic by 2025. 

The R&D programme includes the following projects:

New Materials

  • Accelerated investment in new materials development including new fully recyclable, translucent packaging to replace plastic windows in sandwich and ready meals packs, and new research into alternative natural fibres.
  • Expansion of its barrier technologies such as its recent piloting of ‘Touchguard’, a packaging coating that resists the transmission of viruses.
  • Applying science to fibre: In-depth analysis of different fibres in recycled paper and corrugated to optimise its strength, resilience and recyclable properties.

Designing out Waste

  • Real world analysis of e-commerce home delivery supply chains, including measurement of G-force impacts on packages in transit, to reduce wastage and prevent damaged parcels.
  • New trials on strengthening natural paper fibres to optimise materials in box design and manufacturing. The new technology enables excess fibre to be removed from the packaging whilst improving its overall strength and resilience.
  • 700 DS Smith designers trained in Circular design, in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, so all customers have access to circular packaging and services.

New Prototyping Acceleration Hub

  • The creation of ‘Unit 17’, a new prototyping and testing facility in the UK, to develop breakthrough innovations. This new facility will fast-track next generation technology and works in partnership with the Group’s 50 innovation centres and R&D partners.

"How we live our lives is changing fast due to many factors and how we all take care of the environment is a top priority.  We are now investing more than previous years to ensure that we are leading this change and can offer customers packaging that has less impact on the environment.
DS Smith makes sustainable packaging that is fibre-based and fully recyclable. 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 and supporting our customers in transitioning to a circular economy."

— Miles Roberts, DS Smith Chief Executive

DS Smith’s Now and Next strategy was launched in the autumn of 2020 and includes industry leading goals, focused on the Circular Economy.  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 lorry journeys from the roads, replace a billion pieces plastic from supermarkets and online shopping and educate 5 million young people in the circular economy.