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DS Smith Begins Testing Packaging Of Straw, Seaweed, Flowers

DS Smith

Atlanta-based DS Smith is exploring new sustainable options for its packaging, testing materials typically seen in gardens, parks and beaches. The company is working to give new life to alternative fibers for paper and cardboard, including daisies, straw, cocoa shells, miscanthus and seaweed.

The research follows a national DS Smith survey in which 59 percent of consumers say recycling instructions are hard to find, while 63 percent are more likely to purchase well-marked products, a sign of environmental concerns driving shopper preferences.

As part of its $140 million investment in research and development announced last year, DS Smith has been conducting trials that use more sustainable material for packaging and cardboard fibers.

Beyond the benefit of improving consumer convenience and recycling rates, the new materials could also help the packaging industry conserve water and energy. Both straw and miscanthus require less energy and water than bio-based alternatives like plastic when being manufactured into packaging.

Miscanthus can grow in poor-quality soils on fallow farmland, while generating as many as three crop yields a year. Straw is seen as the most promising alternative fiber for widespread use due to its ability to be used in a wide range of applications. Quick-growing daisies, although early in DS Smith’s research, also have shown signs of producing high-quality fibers.

DS Smith has been testing 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 properties as a barrier coating, replacing problem plastics and petroleum-based packaging used to protect many foodstuffs.

“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,” said Alison Berg, sustainability manager.

“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 percent 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.

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