Kolorcraft Paper & Plastics Recycling Case Study

DS Smith worked with Kolorcraft to improve their existing recycling processes. Implementing segregated collections ensured that larger quantities of material and a higher quality of recyclate could be sent for reprocessing.


Kolorcraft is a retail point of sale (POS) display production company based in West Yorkshire. Its print operations run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, designing and creating paper, board and plastic-based POS displays using digital, screen, and litho print processes.

DS Smith began providing services to Kolorcraft in April 2016. Prior to this, paper and board had been collected for recycling separately from other material streams, but some card and all plastics had been collected as part of a single commingled stream.

This limited segregation meant that Kolorcraft was not achieving its maximum recycling potential, or the environmental and economic benefits that come with high quality recyclable materials.

The Challenge

DS Smith worked with Kolorcraft to plan significant changes to their waste collection infrastructure. A site survey revealed that there were 4 main waste-producing points around 1 large print plant and 1 storage warehouse.

Kolorcraft wanted to eliminate waste going directly to landfill, spend less on waste disposal, and generate revenue from recyclate, reducing the net price per tonne for all waste disposed of.

The Solution

DS Smith carried out a ‘bin rationalisation’ programme – the process by which we assessed the contents of the existing bins and suggested improvements that would benefit Kolorcraft.

During bin rationalisation, we ask questions like:

  • What materials can be collected as separate streams?
  • Are bins full when they are collected?
  • Are the bins too big?
  • Are they collected too often?
  • Does the site have too many bins?

DS Smith installed new bins for card, Correx®, mixed plastics, and Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), which are now successfully collected as separate streams alongside the existing paper collections. To support the new infrastructure, DS Smith and Kolorcraft’s managers worked to educate Kolorcraft’s waste segregation staff on the new process requirements.

As a printing company, Kolorcraft were able to print their own communications posters and signage about the new system in-house, and to recycle them through the new infrastructure.

The project aimed to initially improve Kolorcraft’s 29% recycling rate to 40%, and then to achieve a minimum rate of 50% of all materials being recycled within 12 months. The first target was achieved within 2 months of project rollout, and was maintained throughout the year.

The Benefits

Recycling Rate Target

Year-on-year increase in Kolorcraft recycling rate (%)

Kolorcraft met and exceeded the 50% recycling rate target in 6 calendar months of Year 1. Within 6 months, the recycling rate had increased from 29% in July 2016 to 56% in December 2016, rising again to 62% in July 2017.

Over the year, segregation has more than trebled the quantities of recyclate being reprocessed, with no residual waste going directly to landfill.

Segregation has improved more than just Kolorcraft’s recycling rate. Revenue is generated from the recycled cardboard, paper, Correx®, LDPE and mixed plastics.

The project has moved four material streams higher up the waste hierarchy, with a cost benefit to Kolorcraft, and an environmental benefit from ensuring that its materials are recycled through DS Smith’s recycling services.

The plastics streams are bulked up, palletised, and moved to the DS Smith Plastics site at Gloucester to be recycled. The fibre streams are transported to the DS Smith recycling facility in Leeds, where they are checked, baled, and transported to DS Smith’s paper mill at Kemsley.

This means that all of Kolorcraft’s streams are recycled within the UK, contributing to the national recycling targets of 69.5% for paper and 51% for plastics.

Kolorcraft has always had a strong ethos of sustainability, achieving BS EN ISO 140001 in 2009 as part of their commitment to, in their own words, “helping look after the planet”.

Tony Geesing, Site Services Manager at Kolorcraft, said of the recycling project:

Because of what we do, we generate lots of paper-based materials as well as plastic streams – so it’s been key for Kolorcraft to ensure that we’re doing the most we can to look after the planet. We have directed our sustainability efforts towards reducing the amount of resources we use, sourcing more environmentally friendly raw materials wherever possible, and ensuring that we responsibly manage our waste. To improve from a 29% recycling rate in July 2016 to 62% in July 2017 is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the waste team at Kolorcraft and our partners at DS Smith.

James Kenward, MCIWM, Commercial Manager at DS Smith Recycling, said:

"This project is a perfect example of the value of segregating materials. Through implementing better collection methods, we’ve taken four recyclable streams out of general waste and moved them further up the waste hierarchy. Through the DS Smith Supply Cycle and the combined effort of DS Smith’s Plastics, Recycling and Paper divisions, Kolorcraft’s fibre and plastics streams are recycled back into something useful once more, ensuring that Kolorcraft are able to meet their sustainability objectives and to make economic savings in their own operations."

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