DS Smith launches circular design principles to aid recycling

Packaging firm DS Smith has developed circular packaging design principles to make recycling more straightforward for consumers.

An image of DS Smith packaging

Following a new study carried out by DS Smith that confusion surrounding recycling leads to 2.6 million tonnes of rubbish going to landfill, DS Smith has launched Circular Design Principles in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on 29 April.

DS Smith aims to assist companies in creating a consistent design for packaging to make recycling guidelines clearer for customers, believing ‘a circular economy model benefits the environment and can drive growth for the packaging industry’.

Confusion over what can and cannot be recycled is an issue frequently raised by householders. DS Smith’s study suggests that UK adults throw 30 per cent of their recyclable material into general waste, with 83 per cent claiming they are not clear which types of packaging can and can’t be recycled.

Consumers are clear that they want clearer labelling, with a further 57 per cent surveyed reporting that clearer labelling on products would help to increase recycling rates. the Waste and Resources Action Programme WRAP’s ‘Clear on Plastics’ campaign and plastics recycling charity RECOUP’s study have both carried out work in recent times to try to reduce confusion around plastic packaging recycling.

Aside from recyclable material in landfill costing the economy up to £95 million each year, incorrect recycling by consumers can also cause contamination meaning materials cannot be recycled – recent reports suggest potentially coronavirus-infected personal protective equipment (PPE) is being placed in recycling.

The five Design Principles created by DS Smith are:

  1. Protecting brands and products – Designers must always ensure that packaging successfully protects its product. Damaged products from poor packaging have an economic and environmental impact.
  2. Using no more materials than necessary – Optimised use of packaging materials saves resources and reduces waste.
  3. Designing for supply cycle efficiency – Designers should drive efficiency by changing the layout of products within boxes for stacking in delivery vehicles.
  4. Keeping packaging materials in use – Waste should be eliminated by keeping packaging products in use for as long as possible. DS Smith claims it can ‘close the loop’ for customers in 14 days by recycling packaging into new products.
  5. Innovation – Designers should challenge the status quo and support customers in the drive for a circular economy.

Commenting on the principles Stefano Rossi, packaging CEO at DS Smith commented: “There is an undeniable desire from the public to help with the climate crisis, but a lot of packaging is still not recyclable, and people are confused about what packaging goes into which bin.

“We have launched our Circular Design Principles to help companies evolve to meet the needs of the public. By introducing this set of principles, we can design for recyclability, design out waste and pollution, create packaging suited to a circular economy and make it easier to provide labelling to help consumers recycle more.”

DS Smith is hosting a virtual workshop on 27 May to discuss the launch of the principles. You can find out more on the DS Smith website.