Good Human Club

Let’s get this thing right!

Packaging Insights

Easter Packaging: DS Smith discusses circularizing the seasonal boom in profit and waste

#Easter Packaging: DS Smith discusses circularizing the seasonal boom in profit and waste


Samantha Upham
Samantha Upham, senior sustainability manager at DS Smith.

29 Mar 2024 — DS Smith estimates that Britons will buy at least 156 million chocolate Easter eggs this week, but consumers lack the proper information and means to recycle the resulting trash. We speak to Samantha Upham, senior sustainability manager at DS Smith, about seasonal waste and how the industry can aid countries throughout Europe.

Confectionery producers are facing a changing regulatory landscape, with the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) set to alter what companies can produce and how they will contribute to waste management infrastructure.

Upham tells us how the industry can, with government and consumer support, mitigate the environmental impact of seasonal packaging while continuing to profit.

The Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI) has warned that the PPWR will negatively impact business. What do you think of this?
Upham: The effects of PPWR on confectionery packaging remain to be assessed as the industry awaits implementing legislation to understand how recyclability criteria will impact packaging formats and materials.

A key measure in the PPWR is the obligation for all packaging placed on the EU market to be recyclable by 2030. However, some exemptions might be granted on a case-by-case basis based on existing regulations protecting certain trademarks and packaging from protected geographical indications.

This measure could protect certain confectionery packaging formats that might be harder to recycle and address some of the concerns voiced by the BDSI.

DS Smith recently conducted a survey on consumer habits surrounding Easter.Given the significant volume of Easter egg sales in the UK, why hasn’t there been more proactive action from confectionery companies to improve circularity?
Upham: Confectionary companies have come a long way in removing unnecessary packaging and have helped to make the remaining wrapping recyclable. More can be done to improve the recyclability of these forms of packaging, and we work with our customers to ensure this is achieved.

We use Circular Design Principles and Circular Design Metrics, created with the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, to help customers design out waste and pollution and keep materials in use for longer, reducing demand for natural resources.

How does DS Smith address the issue of inconsistent recycling guidelines across UK councils, and what steps are you taking to educate consumers and local authorities?
Upham: Last November, we launched our Wasted Paper report, where we examined the decline in European recycling rates and what needs to be done to improve these. In some of our modeling, we calculated that, in the UK alone, £2.8 billion (US$3.5 billion) of paper and cardboard packaging could be sent to landfills or incinerated by 2030. The UK has a high paper and card recycling rate, but new plans by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs promote the mixing up of paper and card alongside other dry recyclables. This approach has already been proven to reduce the quality of recycled materials. As a result, we have been advocating for the government to separate materials at source to both improve recycling rates and ensure the quality of recycled materials is high.

DS Smith continues to work directly with policymakers at all levels, including Defra and local authorities, to actively encourage improvements that could be made to better collection systems and the recycling rates of paper and cardboard. We also work directly with brand owners and producers to improve the recyclability of their packaging through product design innovations, recyclability testing, and best practices guidance.

With the majority of British citizens believing Easter eggs are excessively packaged, why do you think consumers continue to purchase them in such large quantities?
Upham: Our research shows that 69% of British citizens believe Easter eggs are excessively packaged. However, we have seen confectionary companies improve the recyclability of their packaging. Easter eggs still play an important part in the holiday celebrations, and there are many that are packaged using packaging that can be easily separated and recycled. However, more can be done to ensure the packaging is fully circular for each of these chocolate treats.

Why do significant portions of paper and board packs end up in landfills or incineration, as projected by DS Smith’s research?
Upham: Government commitment is required to boost recycling rates at Easter, says Upham.Even despite the best efforts of well-meaning confectionery companies to ensure their packaging is sustainable, their packaging still may lead to landfill or incineration in the UK. This is largely due to the collection sorting systems we have in place in the UK, whereby most local authorities collect paper and cardboard in a commingled stream with other recyclables. This greatly increased the chance of contamination from non-recyclables, including food, and also the chance of cross-contamination of other recyclables when sorting.

We know that the reject rates from sorting facilities can be as high as 25%, and even after sorting, the paper and cardboard we receive into our Kemsley mill can contain double the non-paper and card contamination when compared to paper and card deriving from separate collections at the household.

The recent government ‘Simpler Recycling’ plans potentially open the door for more comingling of materials at households in the future by removing the need for local authorities to justify the collection system they use. These measures will likely increase contamination and waste of perfectly recyclable packaging under the guise that recycling has been made easier for the public.

What additional initiatives are needed to improve recycling rates for Easter egg packaging components?
Upham: Our tips will help ensure that consumers understand both what items can be recycled and how to recycle each item effectively. Too many councils differ in what they can and cannot recycle and the methods they use to collect them, so it’s important to check your local council’s guidance before recycling any packaging element.

In order to improve the quality of the UK’s recycling, it’s important to improve how we collect it. Source segregation is the answer to improving recycling rates and ensuring the quality of recycled materials is high.

Through our ‘top tips’ and other campaigns, we aim to raise awareness of what actually happens to consumer’s materials when they recycle. We also aim to raise their understanding of how to do it correctly when instructions and guidance from labeling and local authorities can often be conflicting or confusing.

By Radhika Sikaria and Louis Gore-Langton

To contact our editorial team please email us at
editorial@cnsmedia.com

If you found this article valuable, you may wish to receive our newsletters.
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.

# Good Human Club

LEAVE A RESPONSE

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *