DS Smith is exploring the use of seaweed fibers to determine if it can be used as an alternative to raw material in paper and packaging products. After initial testing, the company is researching seaweed’s potential role as a barrier coating, replacing problem plastics and petroleum-based packaging.
Besides Seaweed, the company is also looking at potential uses for natural fibers, such as hay and cotton. In addition, daisy-flowered cup plant and cocoa shells are also being looked at for potential alternatives.
“As a leader in sustainability, our research into alternative raw material and fiber sources will help us drive this project forward, looking at seaweed’s strength, resilience, recyclable properties, scalability and cost. Seaweed could have multiple uses with a low ecological footprint that is easily recyclable and naturally biodegradable,” said Giancarlo Maroto, managing director, paper, forestry and recycling for DS Smith North America.
- Maroto also said the production process with seaweed could be less energy intensive, with fewer chemicals used to extract the fibers, creating the next generation of sustainable paper and packaging solutions.
- The seaweed project is part of DS Smith’s more than $140 million, five-year circular economy research and development program announced earlier this year. The work is designed in part to boost research into alternative fibers and to reduce and eliminate waste.
- Seaweed generally is available from commercial seaweed suppliers and farmers, and scientists have explored the uses of multiple types of green, brown and red seaweed. DS Smith said its research will help decide which species has the best qualities for its processes.
- By 2023, DS Smith will manufacture 100% reusable or recyclable packaging and its aim is that by then, all of its packaging will be recycled or reused.