05 July 2020 Business

DS Smith signs circular economy pledge

Packaging giant DS Smith is among a host of brands pledging to support a transition to the circular economy, outlined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

DS Smith has joined a host of companies in consumer goods, fashion, food and finance in pledging to work within the guidelines of a circular economy, in an initiate started by the Ellen McArthur Foundation.

Co signatories include Nestlé, Danone, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Unilever from food and consumer goods; L’Oreal, Stella McCartney, H&M and Condé Nast from fashion; Barclays and Brunswick from finance. DS Smith is joined by Amcor from the world of packaging. There is also widespread support from NGOs and other associations, including WRAP and WWF.

The initiative has been timed to coincide with the ending of lockdowns across the globe. “As we rise to he challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the question is no longer should we build back better, but how,” says the statement. “The circular economy offers a solution for how to do so. By designing out waste, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems, it creates vital opportunities for economic growth that also restore the environment, create jobs and benefits society.”

In practice, this keeps plastic in circulation rather than landfill. In fashion, the pledge is to design clothes that can be reused and that are made from safe and renewable materials. In food, the idea is to redesign products and supply chains to eliminate the concept of waste.

“And we will not stop there. We can offer the same for other industries that have vital roles to play in this recovery, including healthcare, technology, mobility, electronics, chemicals and the built environment.”

DS Smith has 700 packaging designers who are already helping customers optimise packaging designs. The EMF Circular Design Principles provide a further framework to stimulate discussion and innovations. These were given a London launch at the end of last month with DS Smith customer experience manager Lydia Butler saying: “We were massively inspired by the Design Guide created by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and with the Circular Design Principles we have created a customised framework specifically for packaging. This will help us challenge ourselves to design even better packaging and I’m convinced that our global customers will benefit from our Circular Design Principles.”

Publication of the pledge is a reminder that the sustainability issue remains despite the Covid-19 pandemic seeming to take priority. Alice Bodreau from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, spoke at the Print4All conference. “Over the last couple of years we have seen how wasteful the current economy is and is taking resources for granted.”

The focus needs to be on eliminating this level of waste by rethinking how the economy operates, she told the online event. “For example, for 92% of the time a private car will be static. This means there’s a huge mismatch between the mobility system and the way that we use it. Most cars are designed to be able to carry five people, but for most journeys it’s one or two people per car.

“We need to stop putting things in bins, because once it’s in a bin the majority of the time it will end up in landfill. We have to rethink the whole system and how we produce things. And at the design stage, we must design out waste.”

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DS Smith has created five Circular Design Principles in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to guide discussions with brands about how to innovate packaging in accordance with concepts of the circular economy.

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