Article published in resourse.co by Charles Newman.
DS Smith to trial pulp from waste straw and grain
The FTSE 100 packaging company is partnering with Nafici Environmental Research (NER) to test application of waste cellulose materials in paper production, through adding pulp from waste agricultural products to pulp from virgin and recovered fibres.
DS Smith has today announced a collaborative trial with the West Sussex-based research and development specialist, which has been developing techniques for turning cereal straw and other by-products into unbleached paper pulp.
The company states that this initiative is the ‘latest development’ in its Now and Next strategy. The partnership with Nafici will explore the potential for waste products from cereal crops to provide a ‘second harvest’ through use in the papermaking process.Through collaboration at DS Smith’s research facility at its Kemsley Mill, in Sittingbourne, Kent, the partnership will draw upon Nafici’s EcoPulping process, which aims to use less water and energy than conventional pulping, as well as offering additional strength to the resulting cardboard.
According to DS Smith’s research, use of these materials could lessen the need for virgin fibres in the papermaking process by up to 10 per cent.
Nick Thompson, DS Smith’s Materials Development Director, commented on the trial’s importance “DS Smith has built a reputation for being at the forefront of innovation in the recycling aspect of its operation, in part demonstrated by the investment into the R&D Fibre & Paper Development Lab (based at Kemsley Mill) and our ongoing partnership with Nafici. Businesses are keen to understand how they can adopt more circularity into their supply chains and finding secondary uses for what are currently seen as waste materials are key to that.
“Our Now & Next Sustainability strategy drives us to be leaders in helping the transition to a circular economy, so working with customers and partners across the supply chain to keep materials in use for as long as possible is an important part of that drive.”
Florence Miremadi-Nafici, Co-Founder and CEO of NER, said: “Our work with DS Smith is crucial in addressing the sustainability challenges associated with the increased demand for packaging. Through the pilot programme at Kemsley we hope to prove that alternative fibres, and particularly second harvest materials, can and will play an important role in the future of sustainable packaging.”
This investment marks the latest focus on packaging innovation for DS Smith. Last year the company partnered with Eat Happy to develop fully recyclable sushi packaging, which is expected to prevent up to 1,250 tonnes of plastic waste each year. Using Circular Design Metrics, DS Smith’s new sushi packaging reflects their commitment to the circular economy. The packaging is made from renewable materials and optimises supply chain sustainability.