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 programme established in 2020 as part of DS Smith’s Now & Next Sustainability Strategy, which supports the business’ Purpose to Redefine Packaging For A Changing World.

The target extends across DS Smith's operations in twenty-seven countries across Europe and North America, working towards the shared, circular, objective to design out waste and keep materials in use for longer. Romania played a crucial role in this achievement, replacing over 19 million pieces of plastic with fibre-based alternatives.

Everyday plastic items that have been replaced from supermarket shelves include fruit and vegetable punnets, plastic carriers, and other innovative plastic alternatives include packaging parts from the industrial, automotive & electronics segments. Demand for plastic replacement continues to grow – throughout East Europe, the company has almost doubled the annual number of plastic pieces replaced since the target was set in 2020.

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 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, said that "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. 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.”

Christian Schmidt, Managing Director of DS Smith Packaging Romania: "In Romania, the potential for replacing plastics is very high. I'm pleased to discover year on year an increasing openness from customers to explore more sustainable alternatives to their existing packaging solutions. Now we are celebrating with our customers the success of over 19 million problem plastics replaced so far in Romania."