DS Smith launches Circular Design Principles to drive sustainability in packaging

Announcement comes as new research reveals confusion over recycling contributes to more than 46 million tonnes of rubbish going to landfill or incineration

Today, sustainable packaging leader DS Smith is launching its brand-new Circular Design Principles, as it reveals new research that shows there is a desperate need for consistent design to help cut through the confusion in the recycling of packaging.

The Principles have been developed in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and have been created to help support companies design reuse and recyclability into their packaging. They come as a new study uncovers that European adults admit to throwing 41% of their recyclable material into general waste.

In fact, 74% said they were not clear which types of packaging can and can’t be recycled. A total of 51% of Europeans cited unclear information on packaging as the reason why they were unsure whether to recycle a piece of packaging or not.

Stefano Rossi, packaging CEO at DS Smith, commented: “There is an undeniable desire from the public to help with the climate crisis, but a lot of packaging is still not recyclable, and people are confused about what packaging goes into which bin.

“We have launched our Circular Design Principles to help companies evolve to meet the needs of the public. By introducing this set of principles, we can design for recyclability, design out waste and pollution, create packaging suited to a circular economy and make it easier to provide labelling to help consumers recycle more.”

This confusion has a ripple effect outside of consumer conscience and the immediate environmental impact: recyclable products going to landfill or being incinerated could cost the economy up to €1,864m each year.

DS Smith is hopeful that its Circular Design Principles can help to end the confusion driving this behaviour and support its customers and other members of the packaging industry in their transition to a circular economy.

The Principles have been developed to design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems. A circular economy model benefits the environment and can drive growth for the packaging industry.

DS Smith’s five Circular Design Principles are:

  1. We protect brands and products – Designers must always ensure that packaging successfully protects its product. Damaged products from poor packaging have an economic and environmental impact
  2. We use no more materials than necessary - Optimised use of packaging materials saves resources and reduces waste
  3. We design for supply cycle efficiency – Our designers drive efficiency by changing the layout of products within boxes for stacking in delivery vehicles
  4. We keep packaging materials in use – We eliminate waste by keeping packaging products in use for as long as possible. We can ‘close the loop’ for customers in 14 days by recycling packaging into new products
  5. We find a better way – We empower our designers to challenge the status quo and support customers in the drive for a circular economy

Further results from the research showed that 50% of Europeans think that packaging and products which can be recycled more easily would help increase recycling, and 52% believe that clearer labelling on products would also help to increase recycling rates.

To support the launch of the Circular Design Principles, DS Smith is hosting a virtual workshop on 24th June – to book your place and find out more, please click here.