DS Smith Tests Straw, Seaweed, and Floral Boxes in Research

Packaging leader DS Smith is pushing ahead in exploring outside-the-box options, testing materials typically seen in gardens, parks and beaches.

In doing so, the company is working to give new life to alternative fibers for paper and cardboard, including daisies, straw, miscanthus (grass), cocoa shells and seaweed – as part of its $140 million investment in research and development to accelerate its work in the Circular Economy. The program will look at the fiber potential and plastic replacement capabilities of a number of materials in order to diversify the range of sources it uses for packaging.

DS Smith is also exploring the use of annual plants such as daisies and agricultural wastes for their fiber properties and potential paper performance. The company has also undertaken industry-first trials exploring how seaweed may be used as a raw material to design out problem plastics from carton, paper wrap and cardboard tray packaging.

Now, the DS Smith Innovation Team is experimenting with cocoa shells for carton board in chocolate packaging and is looking at other materials with a good environmental profile. For example, agricultural waste in the form of straw, and annual plants like hemp or miscanthus, which in some cases might require significantly¹ less energy and water to produce than some traditional paper-making materials.

DS Smith has already tested using seaweed fibers as a raw material in a range of packaging solutions, from cartons to paper wraps to cardboard trays. The seaweed fibers demonstrated unique properties capable of harnessing plastic’s benefits as a barrier coating for food products.

As a leader in sustainability, delivering real change is always top of mind. We know that producing recyclable paper-based options alone is not enough, and protecting natural resources is crucial to enabling sustainable development.

Allison Berg
Sustainability manager at DS Smith

“By pursuing more renewable resources for packaging, we are seeking to actively reduce our use of finite natural resources, and will continue to change packaging as we know it.”

The exploration of alternative fibers is part of the sustainable packaging provider’s pledge to optimize fiber use for individual supply chains in 100% of its packaging solutions by 2025, as part of its “Now and Next” strategy. By 2023, DS Smith will manufacture 100 percent reusable or recyclable packaging and its aim is that by 2030 all its packaging will be recycled or reused.

1Novel processes indicate up to 50% less energy and 95% less water than traditional pulping processes.

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