DS Smith announces £4m investment in recycling facilities

Packaging firm DS Smith, the UK’s largest paper recycler, has announced its intention to invest £4 million in its recycling facilities in the South West of England and East London, a week after it appointed a new Head of Recycling.

The company, which operates 10 recycling facilities in the UK, is currently going through the planning process for its East London and South West sites, with the aim of increasing its coverage across the South of England and improving the management of material quality in the UK.

Through the changes brought about by the investment, the East London facility is to move to a shared site with the company’s paper mill in Maidstone in Kent, while its West London site will remain unaffected. The company says this will allow it to increase its coverage across the South East while also continuing to serve the London area.

Meanwhile, the South West of England facility will move from Keynsham to Avonmouth, by Bristol. DS Smith Recycling UK Managing Director Matthew Prosser commented: “The Avonmouth site is a perfect logistics hub that will give us scope for improved recycling operations as well as providing better access to serve our customer base throughout Wales and the South, including key commercial areas of Cardiff, Bristol, Swindon and Gloucester. Changes to both facilities will increase our ability to reach more customers and process more tonnes.”

Expanding beyond fibres

DS Smith hopes the investment will allow it to expand its recycling processing services beyond fibre, of which the company collects and manages more than two million tonnes a year in the UK, the majority of which is supplied directly to its paper mill in Kemsley.

Changes in consumer habits, such as the increasing popularity of home shopping and decline in the use of newsprint, require adaptation on the part of waste processing companies, as recycling logistics as well as material availability begin to shift.

New types of card, usually found in retail streams, can now be found in municipal streams, and DS Smith has made the investment to allow it to process plastics as well as other materials, including non-recyclables.

On the planned expansion, Prosser said: “We have been sending a clear message to local authorities that we have an appetite for their paper and card recycling streams, particularly when it is of the right quality.

Jochen Behr
“The quality of our fibre is key to our operations, and we have two sets of customers to manage: ‘supply’ customers, [from whom] we source our paper and card and ‘mill’ customers, with whom we need to supply recycled fibres for reprocessing. We work with our supply customers to help them produce quality materials for recycling, which also helps them realise operational efficiencies and better material values.

“Supplying good quality recycling into our mill customers makes their production operations run more efficiently and reduces rejects through contamination. Controlling the fibre streams is crucial to our closed-loop recycling and packaging offering.”

DS Smith predicts that the new facilities will be fully operational by spring 2017.

New Head of Recycling at DS Smith

Last week, prior to the new investment, DS Smith announced that Jochen Behr will join the company as Head of Recycling, replacing Jim Malone.

Behr has most recently been Head of European/Global Key Accounts and Strategy at CHEP Europe, a logistics solutions company that specialises in managed, returnable and reusable packaging solutions, where he worked from 2008. Behr will report to Colin McIntyre, the company’s CEO of Paper & Recycling.

The company says that Malone, who had headed up DS Smith’s recycling division since March 2015, is leaving ‘to pursue other interests’.