Plastic waste and its growing visibility in nature is still a problem being tackled across the world. In 2016, according to data from The World Bank, about 242 million tonnes of plastic waste was generated worldwide. This statistic is alarming and has pushed many manufacturers to look at their own operations to see where they can minimise use of plastic.
Packaging solutions provider DS Smith, is among these companies. They launched their Circular Economy R&D programme, which aims to explore the adoption of natural fibres in their product lines. One surprising ingredient that they’re looking into is seaweed fibres, which would be an alternative to wood, protective barriers and petroleum-based packaging.
They are in discussions with other biotechnology companies to see how seaweed fibres can revolutionise sustainable packaging.
According to Thomas Ferge, Paper and Board Development Director at DS Smith, “As a leader in sustainability, our research into alternative raw material and fibre sources has the potential to be a real game changer for our customers and consumers who increasingly want products that are easy to recycle and have a minimal impact on the environment. Seaweed is one of the many alternative natural materials we’re closely looking at, and while most people probably associate it with the beach or as an ingredient in sushi, it could have some exciting applications for us to help create the next generation of sustainable paper and packaging solutions.”
As part of the company’s initiative, they’re also looking at adopting other natural fibres such as cotton, miscanthus, hemp, bagasse and cocoa shells, to name a few. They’re looking to make their entire packaging line to use only recycled components by 2030.