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DS Smith Replaces One Billion Pieces of Plastic Ahead of Schedule

LONDON (News release) - 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[1]. 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 program established in 2020 as part of DS Smith's Now & Next Sustainability Strategy, which supports the business's Purpose to Redefine Packaging For A Changing World.

The target extends across DS Smith's operations in 27 countries across Europe and North America, working towards the shared, circular, objective to design out waste and keep materials in use for longer. Certain markets stand out, having reduced or avoided the most amount of plastic through supply of fiber-based alternatives:

  1. The UK leads the way, having replaced over 274 million pieces of plastic.
  2. France follows, having replaced more than 260 million pieces.
  3. Germany is in third place after replacing over 153 million pieces.

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 amount of plastic pieces replaced since the target was set in 2020.[2]

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:

"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."

[1] Any plastic, whether from the customer's primary or secondary packaging, that has now been reduced in volume or completely removed from the customer's existing packaging as a direct result of DS Smith's "plastic replacement" packaging solution, is considered within scope of this target. Plastics include, but are not limited to: HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE, PA (nylon), PE-maleic anhydride, PET, PP, PP orientated, PS, PU, PVC, Foams (e.g. EPE, EPS, EPU), and Laminates.

[2] 91% increase in yearly amount of plastic replaced in East European region when comparing FY 2020/21 to FY 2023/24.

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