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DS Smith Shares Top Tips for a More Sustainable Picnic as Temperatures Soar

With schools out for the summer and Brits soaking up the sunshine, DS Smith provides easy hacks for a more sustainable picnic season.

DS Smith, a leading sustainable packaging provider, has today published 5 top tips to encourage Brits to go green this picnic season. From pre-prepared sandwiches and picnic staples that come packaged in single-use plastic; to disposable plates, cups and cutlery – picnics generate significant waste. Sweet wrappers, crisp packets and drink bottles in particular were the main type of litter found in public places last year, in fact, chocolate and sweet wrappers alone were found littered across 60% of spaces in the UK[1].

As the UK’s biggest recycler of paper and cardboard, DS Smith is calling on environmentally-conscious Brits who admit to binning their otherwise good recycling routines during the summer months to make simple changes. In fact, 11.8 million[i] Brits (18%) say that recycling falls to the very bottom of their priority lists when the sun starts shining, despite two thirds (69%) claiming that recycling is extremely important to them throughout the rest of the year[2].

DS Smith is encouraging the UK to follow these top tips to reduce waste and go plastic-free when enjoying picnics this summer:

  • PLAN AHEAD: If you’re not sticking to finger foods, bring your own cutlery from home that can be used again, instead of grabbing on-the-go plastic knives and forks.
  • MAKE IT YOURSELF: Make your food at home and use re-usable containers to reduce packaging waste. A tasty way to help save the pennies!
  • BUY RECYCLED: Where you can’t reduce your packaging or reuse it, shop with recyclability in mind. Look for the on-pack recycling information and avoid foods packaged in single-use plastics.
  • AVOID GRUBBY PACKAGING: Leftover food and excessive food stains make it difficult to recycle packaging, so be sure to eat up or separate the leftovers before you recycle.
  • TAKE IT HOME: Take your picnic left overs with you when you’re finished and use your recycling bins at home.

When on the go, three out of 10 Brits (30%) admit to binning materials they know to be recyclable, whilst only two out of 10 (21%) are more conscientious and bring them home to dispose of more sustainably. And, one in 10 (10%) well-meaning individuals are failing at the final hurdle, admitting to bringing recyclable materials home only to throw them away with the household rubbish[3].

Jochen Behr, Head of Recycling at DS Smith
We all have our part to play in tackling waste and reducing single-use plastic. Across the summer picnic season, we want to encourage the public to consider the impact of their picnic waste and challenge them to seek out paper-based packaging alternatives when making their pre-picnic purchases. — Jochen Behr, Head of Recycling at DS Smith

Paper and cardboard has an 85 per cent rate of recycling across Europe[4], and simple swaps, from plastic to paper and cardboard alternatives, could significantly reduce single-use plastic use in our society. DS Smith has been actively working to reduce plastic packaging by innovating in sectors where sustainable fibre-based packaging can make a big difference, thereby reducing plastic use by millions of tonnes over the next decade.

To emphasise this challenge, packaging designers at DS Smith have created a fully recyclable picnic set made from 100% fibre-based corrugated cardboard and accompanying food punnets. It is encouraging people around the UK to get involved by posting their pictures on social media from their low-waste picnics using the hashtag #plasticfreepicnic

As Europe’s largest cardboard and paper recycler, DS Smith operates recycling depots in 17 countries across Europe to manage over 5 million tonnes of recyclable materials each year and ensure they are not lost from the system. It is also participating in new trials to solve how the UK collects and processes rising quantities of e-commerce packaging and hard to recycle products, such as coffee cups.


[1] Keep Britain Tidy: The Local Environmental Quality Survey of England 2017/18

[2] Beyond the Box commissioned Censuswide Consumer Research: 2,000 consumers, 20.05.2019 - 22.05.2019

[3] Beyond the Box commissioned Censuswide Consumer Research: 2,000 consumers, 20.05.2019 - 22.05.2019

[4]Eurostat ‘Packaging waste by waste management operations and waste flow’ 2016 data



[i] Based on UK population of 66,040,200. 18% of 66,040,200 = 11,887,236 

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