Is your brew making the right kind of impact on the environment?

Three quarters of all Europeans are concerned about the amount of plastic entering our oceans. Our designers have already created a range of sustainable alternatives for the single-use plastic used in beer packaging.

71% of beer drinkers in the UK think it’s important for beer brands to be environmentally friendly. Top of their wish list, is the reduction or removal of unnecessary single-use plastic packaging from their favourite brands. It’s a concern that’s shared across Europe, with 75% of all customers concerned about the amount of plastic ending up in the sea. Nearly nine in 10 people (88%) who watched Blue Planet II say they changed their behaviour as a result.

Our latest FREE White Paper reveals your customers are calling for action - or you face falling sales and de-listing.

We are designing single use plastic out of beer packaging

Each year over 20 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced in Europe and globally 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the oceans. Of all the plastic waste produced since 1950, only 9 per cent has been recycled.  

However, recycling cannot solve this problem alone. At DS Smith, we believe we need to redefine a more sustainable and circular packaging system. As the momentum around transitioning to the circular economy grows (and phrases such as ‘single-use plastic’ have become increasingly widespread) there is now a need to more accurately define recyclability.

The ideal solution, which DS Smith is strongly aligned to is, ‘certain to be recycled’. This is difficult to guarantee with current infrastructure but is pivotal if we want a future of fully circular material flows.

In the meantime, the confusion over what is and what isn’t recyclable means that across Europe more than 46 million tonnes of rubbish unnecessarily goes into landfill or incineration each year.


Our view is clear: companies can no longer stand up to scrutiny if their product and packaging is recyclable in Europe but not elsewhere in the world. We need to harness alternative materials and consider opportunities for radical redesign.

Many global brands, retailers and manufacturers have already committed to using 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.

Eliminating single-use plastic needn’t be a cost

Previous research has revealed that a majority of consumers are prepared to pay more for packaging with less plastic - 72% of people in Poland for example, 63% in Germany and 61% in the UK. We are Redefining Packaging for a Changing World and our packaging designers are ahead of the game.

Beer hop

We have already developed over 650 designs focused specifically on single-use plastic replacement and, in our supermarkets alone, we have identified five areas where 1.5 million tonnes of plastic could be replaced with fibre alternatives by 2030. These innovations include a range of sustainable alternatives for multi-can carriers, can clips and fully-enclosed, high-sided trays to replace plastic film. For one of our customers, finding a sustainable fibre alternative to their traditional plastic high cone enabled them to retain a supermarket listing of over 1 million four-packs per year.

Meanwhile, in Germany and UK, our teams have been working on box designs which eliminate adhesive plastic tape – innovating with different closure mechanisms. Implementing of these designs with one of our customers has already eliminated 18,000km of plastic tape - enough to stretch halfway around the world.

Protecting natural resources, from water to woodland

As well as removing plastic, at DS Smith most packaging and paper products manufactured are made using recycled fibres, collected by our Recycling Division and recycled at our network of paper mills. Our corrugated board solutions already have the highest recycling rate of any packaging material in Europe ​and contain an average of 89% recycled content per box.

Yet without the use of virgin fibres, the supply of recycled board would run out within three years. So where we do not use recycled papers, we use virgin papers instead. In these cases, to ensure we use papers that derive from responsibly managed forests, we buy chain of custody certified papers in line with DS Smith Fibre Sourcing Policy.

Discover the future of beer and cider packaging now

Our latest FREE White Paper ‘Make the right kind of impact’ will tell you more about making your beer stand out on sustainability. Not just by eliminating single-use plastic packaging but reducing CO2 as well. It will also show you ways we are helping brewers meet challenges in ecommerce and increased competition in the off-trade too.

Download it today. It could give you a competitive advantage and help you succeed in a challenging, changing world.