R8 rating?

Mon, 15/01/2024 – 09:00

The Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

One of the world’s largest providers of fibre-based packaging companies, DS Smith has set up its own research and development centre. It is called R8 for reasons that are not clear and it is located in the UK. The goal is to work with customers and partners “to accelerate the research and development of radically new packaging fulfilment solutions”. This should mean packaging that has a lower negative impact on the environment through waste reduction and the use of fully recyclable materials.

DS Smith serves some of the world’s best known providers of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), and also works closely with online retailers and “industrial players”. The research facilities include a testing hall plus laboratories, design studios and spaces for prototyping and collaboration. Research projects will look at manufacturing improvements, meeting customer expectations for sustainable packaging and new ideas for packaging fulfillment in line with DS Smith’s pledge to support the circular economy in its sector.

It’s ambitious to say the least. Stefano Rossi, boss of the DS Smith packaging division says the company “will be partnering with customers to help them transition to the circular economy by focusing on novel packaging solutions that deploy new materials and technologies. Nothing is off the table”.

Work at R8 will include technology and materials development, but DS Smith has not specified its partners. In the past the company has worked with HP, KBA and EFI amongst others, but so far not much has been forthcoming from any of these. Once R8 is up and running we would expect to hear something more about DS SMith’s collaborators, particularly for materials and new digital printing and finishing ideas.

Data will play a key role in on demand manufacturing for long and short runs so that might suggest a key role for players with a proven record in workflow and data management, such as EFI. Projects will include developing ideas for smart packaging and for tracking goods as they are developed and travel along supply chains. DS Smith has said that it is looking at alternative natural resources for papers and ideas for reusing fibre-based packaging. This isn’t particularly innovative, given that people already reuse packaging but new barrier technologies particularly for food will be more interesting and more challenging.

This looks like an excellent initiative, and if DS Smith partners include regulatory agencies such as the European Union it will allow the company to both to comply with regulations before they exist and to shape them.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIFespaFujifilmHPKodakMiraclonRicohSplash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.

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