DS Smith replaces one billion pieces of plastic

Ahead of schedule and in partnership with some of the most iconic FMCG brands in the world, DS Smith has replaced more than one billion pieces of plastic, 16 months in advance of its 2025 target. This marks a key sustainability milestone for one of the leading international suppliers of more sustainable packaging solutions.

As of May 2024, DS Smith has replaced over 1.2 billion pieces of plastics across its international markets, surpassing the target 16 months ahead of schedule.

The company’s target concerned any primary or secondary plastic packaging that has now been reduced or completely removed from customers’ packaging as a direct result of DS Smith’s solution.

The achievement has its roots in a plastic replacement and reduction programme established in 2020 as part of DS Smith’s Now & Next Sustainability Strategy, which supports the company-wide purpose to Redefine Packaging for a Changing World.

The target extends across DS Smith’s operations in twenty-seven countries across Europe and North America, working towards the shared, circular, objective to design out waste and keep materials in use for longer.

Everyday plastic items that have been replaced from supermarket shelves include fruit and vegetable punnets, plastic carriers, and shrink-wrap that is commonly found on soft drink bottles. 

Demand for plastic replacement continues to grow – throughout East Europe, the company has almost doubled the annual number of plastic pieces replaced since the target was set in 2020.

Critical to meeting the 1 billion target and a fundamental part of the design process at DS Smith, are DS Smith’s Circular Design Principles and Circular Design Metrics which were created in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Each of DS Smith’s almost 800 designers have been trained in Circular Design Principles and are able to assess performance against areas such as recycled content and recyclability, indicative estimated CO2 emissions, levels of excess waste and supply chain parameters in partnership with customers.

DS Smith has implemented the Circular Design Metrics – an industry first – across a range of sectors, including retail goods, food and beverages, automotive parts, and industrial devices. 

Miles Roberts, Group Chief Executive, DS Smith said: “When we set our Now and Next sustainability strategy, we wanted to include goals that delivered environmental change beyond as well as within DS Smith. By innovating to help our customers replace or reduce plastics, we are responding to societal demands to reduce plastic pollution, as well as growing our partnerships with customers.

“I am proud of every single member of the DS Smith team for achieving this goal, and a year early. However, this is very much the beginning. There are many more positive impacts we can make by supporting our customers and communities in their sustainability goals and we are extremely motivated by this mission. But it is important to note that if our customers – the biggest FMCG brands – are to remove plastics at scale and at pace, they need the right regulatory framework around them. What we need are stronger, harmonised, global, regulations that level the playing field, to help businesses move away from plastic.”

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