DS Smith Tests Alternative Fibers to Use in Sustainable Packaging
As part of its $140 million investment in research and development announced last year, DS Smith has been conducting trials that use more sustainable materials for packaging and cardboard fibres.
The research comes amid a national DS Smith survey in which 59% of consumers say recycling instructions are hard to find, while 63% are more likely to purchase well-marked products, a sign of environmental concerns driving shopper preferences.
The company is testing the reuse abilities of alternative fibres for paper and cardboard, including daisies, straw, cocoa shells, miscanthus (grass), and seaweed, as part of its efforts to invest in sustainable resources and reduce waste.
These new materials could help the packaging industry conserve water and energy. Both straw and miscanthus require significantly less energy and water than bio-based alternatives like plastic when being manufactured into packaging.
Miscanthus can grow in poor-quality soils on fallow farmland while generating as many as three crop yields a year. Straw is seen as the most promising alternative fibre for widespread use due to its ability to be used in a wide range of applications. Quick-growing daisies, although early in DS Smith’s research, have also shown signs of producing high-quality fibres.
DS Smith has already tested using seaweed fibres as a raw material in a range of packaging solutions such as cartons, paper wraps, and cardboard trays. The seaweed fibres demonstrated unique properties as a barrier coating, resulting in the plastics and petroleum-based packaging used to protect many foodstuffs being replaced.
This research is part of DS Smith’s pledge to optimise fibre use for individual supply chains in 100% of its packaging solutions by 2025. By 2023, DS Smith hopes to manufacture 100% reusable or recyclable packaging.
DS Smith isn’t the only company looking to produce sustainable products from unique sources. Goodyear is developing a tyre from a domestic source of natural rubber produced from dandelions. The multi-year, multi-million dollar programme is using a specific species of dandelion called Taraxacum kok-saghyz, also known as TK, and rubber produced from the plant will be used to make military aircraft tyres. Goodyear is working in partnership with the US Department of Defence, the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and BioMade to develop the rubber with Ohio-based Farmer Materials.
Source: Environmental Leader