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Pioneering DS Smith Initiative Provides Brands with Circular Design Metrics

May 5, 2021

3 Min Read
DS Smith

ATLANTA  – DS Smith is today announcing another milestone in its commitment to lead the way towards a more Circular Economy. The sustainable packaging giant unveiled its Circular Design Metrics, an industry first that allows customers to rate circularity of their packaging.

The pioneering initiative provides a unique insight into how company packaging choices can reduce their impact on the environment. Through the collaborative design process, customers will be able compare the environmental performance of different solutions to create more circular packaging.

“It is a critical moment for companies to put a focus on managing their impact on the environment and ensure they recognize the effect their packaging choices have on the circular economy,” said Mark Ushpol, managing director of North American Packaging at DS Smith. “Our new Circular Design Metrics can help companies large and small drive sustainability through design, ultimately reducing their environmental impact and ensuring circular packaging solutions are employed.”

The Circular Design Metrics is a new breakthrough tool that makes it possible to see and compare the performance of a packaging design across a range of indicators, such as recyclability, renewable content, and supply chain optimization. The metrics include eight different indicators that provide clear insight of circularity performance and help identify areas with potential for improvement. The tool is a first of its kind for brands that want to drive sustainability performance through their packaging.

DS Smith launched its Circular Design Principles for packaging in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2020. The Principles were developed to help companies design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems. Now, one year later, the company has trained its 700 packaging designers to apply the Circular Design Principles in the packaging design process. With the addition of the new Circular Design Metrics, it will be possible to rate the impact of every design decision, and help customers create the most effective circular packaging solutions. DS Smith will embed the new metrics in the packaging design process with customers over the coming months.

“The design stage has a huge influence on how products, including packaging, are produced, used and what happens to them after use,” said Joe Iles, circular design lead from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “DS Smith's Circular Design Metrics are a key milestone to help drive change towards a circular economy.

“As a Strategic partner, DS Smith has the ability to make change happen faster by mobilizing its large design community and influencing its customers, many of which are global brands. And what’s more, the company will also help inspire many other businesses and designers worldwide,” said Iles.

Today’s announcement builds on the company’s ongoing commitment to put sustainability first as it continues to develop innovative packaging solutions that ensure 100% recyclability or reuse, optimize every fiber and offer alternatives to problem plastics.

To find out more about the Circular Design Principles, click here.


The eight indicators of the DS Smith Circular Design Metrics are:

  • Supply chain optimized

  • Recyclable

  • Planet safe

  • Carbon footprint

  • Renewable material source

  • Recycled content

  • Material utilization

  • Designed for reuse   

About DS Smith: 

DS Smith is a leading provider of sustainable fibre-based packaging worldwide, which is supported by recycling and papermaking operations. It plays a central role in the value chain across sectors including e-commerce, fast moving consumer goods and industrials. Through its purpose of ‘Redefining Packaging for a Changing World’ and its Now and Next sustainability strategy, DS Smith is committed to leading the transition to the circular economy, while delivering more circular solutions for its customers and wider society – replacing problem plastics, taking carbon out of supply chains and providing innovative recycling solutions. Its bespoke box-to-box in 14 days model, design capabilities and innovation strategy sits at the heart of this response. Headquartered in London and a member of the FTSE 100, DS Smith operates in 34 countries employing around 30,000 people and is a Strategic Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Its history can be traced back to the box-making businesses started in the 1940s by the Smith family. 

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