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DS Smith sets challenge to next generation of circular economy system designers

Packaging Solutions

DS Smith has invited University of Exeter students to step up to the challenge of designing systems for a circular economy, setting them ambitious tasks to support reuse, and keep materials in use for as long as possible.

The students must create reusable packaging system solutions focusing on the reuse of e-commerce and white goods secondary packaging. They will receive mentoring from DS Smith experts to support the development of their ideas and understanding of the industry.

DS Smith is a corporate sponsor of the University of Exeter’s MBA, Circular Economy Corporate Challenge, and with departmental leaders guiding the students throughout the week of Monday 15 to Friday 19 May.

Hugh McCann, senior circular growth manager, DS Smith, said: ‘The circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems, and offers an alternative solution to the current linear economy that is based on a ‘take, make, consume and dispose’ mindset.

‘At DS Smith, the circular nature of our business is already serving as the gateway to the circular economy for customers as we support their changing needs, sustainability goals, and the growing demand for sustainable packaging. We are thrilled to invite the circular economy designers of the future into space, and excited to see how they will address the challenges we pose them.’

DS Smith is a key supplier of packaging to well known e-commerce businesses where typically the packaging is either recycled after use or reused within the home before being recycled.

The business also provides secondary packaging for the white goods sector which is typically single use and either returned to DS Smith for recycling or recycled through third party waste management partners.

Hugh McCann continued, ‘People increasingly expect companies to deliver sustainable solutions and to create a positive impact for both people and planet, and that creates opportunity to put new ways of thinking into action. We are exploring how we can engage with innovative reuse solutions with our customers and partners in future and delighted to invite Exeter’s students into the tent.’

DS Smith experts including Wim Wouters, director of innovation, Gavin Mounce, key account innovation manager, e-commerce design manager, and Robert Kiacz, IPS design and innovation manager, are working alongside Hugh McCann to interview and assess the MBA students' innovations, with the successful submissions set to be announced today (Friday 19 May 2023).


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