DS Smith raises ambitions of its Now & Next Sustainability Strategy; new commitments will prioritize circularity, accelerate the journey to Net Zero, and strengthen the business’ focus on people, communities and nature

Sample article from our Packaging Industry

July 17, 2023 (press release) –

Sustainable packaging business ramps up commitments to meet challenges of changing world

Leading provider of sustainable packaging solutions DS Smith has raised the ambitions of its Now & Next Sustainability Strategy to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, Circular Economy.  

Partnering with its customers, DS Smith has already replaced 762m problem plastics with fibre-based alternatives since 2020, and created more than 30,000 circular-ready projects through its industry-leading Circular Design Metrics.   

In tandem, and in line with its goals to decarbonise, this year DS Smith reduced CO2 emissions by 10 per cent (15 per cent compared to 2019), as well as achieving a 4 per cent reduction in water abstraction within paper mills in areas at risk of water stress.  Since Now & Next launched, the business has met nine of its 26 targets, with an additional three targets tracking ahead of schedule.  

Reinforcing these achievements to meet the challenges set by the changing world around us, the business has now raised its ambition with a set of focused targets, to accelerate progress. Created with independent experts, the new Now & Next commitments will prioritise circularity, accelerate the journey to Net Zero, and strengthen the business’ focus on people & communities, and nature. 

Group Chief Executive, Miles Roberts, commented: “We have made good progress with our Now & Next Sustainability Strategy, but the world around us demands that we all do more. That is why we are taking action today to ensure our commitments deliver at pace in a rapidly changing world, and accelerate our transition to a low carbon, circular, economy.”  

Driven by the DS Smith Purpose of Redefining Packaging for a Changing World, key developments to the Now & Next sustainability strategy and targets, are: 


  • By 2025, test up to 5 reuse pilots and continue to manufacture 100% recyclable and reusable packaging.  


  • By 2030, reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions by 46% compared to 2019/20. 
  • By 2027, encourage 100% of our strategic suppliers (representing 76% of purchased goods and services emissions) to set their own science-based targets. 
  • By 2050, reach Net Zero GHG emissions. 

People & Communities 

  • By 2030, engage ten million (an increase from five million) people on the Circular Economy and circular lifestyles. 
  • By 2025, inclusive leadership workshops completed by all leadership teams across all sites. 
  • By 2030, improve gender diversity towards 40% women in senior leadership and set an aspiration of other protected characteristics. 
  • Strive to achieve Vision Zero – zero accidents, and ultimately, zero harm. 


  • By 2025, measure and improve biodiversity in our own forests and assess our dependencies on nature. 
  • Set targets to regenerate nature taking a science-based approach.  
  • By 2030, 10% reduction in water-withdrawal intensity at mills at risk of water stress compared to 2019. 

Group Chief Executive, Miles Roberts, continued: “To address climate change, it is critical we adopt low carbon, renewable, energy sources. But we must also address how we make and use things in our everyday lives, by moving to the Circular Economy. Through our Circular Design Principles, we already act as the gateway to the circular economy for our customers, helping some of the world’s most recognisable FMCG brands meet their sustainability goals, alongside our own.”    

Using its Circular Design Principles and Circular Design Metrics, DS Smith supports customers to design out waste and pollution and keep materials in use for longer, reducing demand for natural resources. Since their creation in 2019, DS Smith’s Circular Design Metrics have supported thousands of design projects. Around 3,000 solutions featuring DS Smith Circular Design Metrics are presented to customers every month, supporting their transition to the Circular Economy.  



  • The Now & Next strategy was launched in 2020, inspired by the business’ ongoing partnership with circularity leader, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation 
  • Our Sustainability Report covering the period May 2022 - April 2023 and details the progress we have made in all of our packaging plants, paper mills and recycling depots as part of our Group-wide global Sustainability Strategy. The Basis of Preparation, available from our online ESG Reporting Hub, includes a detailed methodology for how our ESG reporting is prepared. 
  • Cementing its ongoing ambitions, the business has set an industry-leading commitment to meet a 1.5C science-based target to reduce emissions by 46% by 2030, and to meet Net Zero by 2050.  
  • DS Smith has significantly improved its external ESG ratings from MSCI, Sustainalytics, and S&P Global CDP, and achieved a Platinum EcoVadis Sustainability Rating, placing it in the top 1% of assessed companies.  


Full detail on our refreshed Now & Next Sustainability Strategy can be found here 

Now & Next targets already met: 

  • 100% of our packaging is now recyclable or reusable 
  • 100% of our energy consumption is ISO50001 Certified 
  • We have already launched 100 biodiversity projects across Europe & North America 
  • 100% of our sites in areas of high water stress now have a water mitigation plan 
  • All our forests have forest management certification 
  • 100% of manufacturing sites are FSC certified 
  • 100% of the papers we use in manufacturing are recycled or chain of custody certified 
  • We have conducted a group human rights risk assessment and published our Human Rights Policy  
  • 100% of sites are engaged in community activities  

Now & Next targets currently ahead of schedule: 

  • By 2025, remove 1 billion items of problem plastic  
  • By 2025, optimise fibre for individual supply chains in 100% of new packaging solutions  
  • By 2030, engage 5 million people in the circular economy and circular lifestyles 


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