DS Smith, the leading sustainable packaging company, has launched a project to study the possibility of using algae fibers as a raw material for paper and packaging products in order to meet the growing customer and consumer demand for sustainable products.
This could make the company a pioneer in the sector in the use of algae as an alternative fiber to wood in its packaging. Following initial trials, the company is also studying the potential of algae to contribute to the elimination of plastics by having them act as a barrier coating and replace the petroleum-based packaging used to protect many food products.
DS Smith is therefore in talks with biotechnology companies to look into the use of algae fibers in a range of packaging products, including boxes, paper wraps and paperboard trays.
According to Thomas Ferge, Paper and Board Development Director at DS Smith, "as a leader in sustainability, our research into alternative raw materials and fiber sources has real potential to be a game-changer for our customers and consumers, who are increasingly demanding products that are easy to recycle and have minimal impact on the environment.
Given its wide variety of uses, the market for algae for industrial applications is growing rapidly. It is estimated that the European algae sector alone will be worth more than €9 billion by 2030 and could create around 115,000 jobs.
This project is part of DS Smith's €116 million circular economy R&D program, announced this year. It also works with natural fibers made from other innovative natural raw materials, such as straw, hemp, miscanthus and cotton, as well as more unusual sources, such as cup plant and agricultural waste, cocoa shells or sugarcane bagasse.
The circular economy is at the core of DS Smith's Now and Next sustainability strategy, focused on offering a better design, protecting natural resources by making the most of every fiber, reducing waste and pollution through circular solutions, and equipping people to lead the transition to a circular economy. By 2023, DS Smith aims to manufacture 100% recyclable or reusable packaging, and its goal is for all of its packaging to be recycled or reused by 2030.
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