UK – British fiber-based packaging supplier DS Smith has invited students from the University of Exeter, UK, to compete in creating design systems for a circular economy.

Students have been tasked with creating 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.

Hugh McCann, senior circular growth manager at DS Smith says: “People increasingly expect companies to deliver [environmentally] sustainable solutions and to create a positive impact for both people and planet, and that makes an 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 the future and are delighted to invite Exeter’s students into the tent.”

The students will be allotted time slots between May 15-19 to develop their solutions. The successful submissions will be announced on May 19.

DS Smith’s mentors for the program include Wim Wouters, director of innovation; Gavin Mounce, key account innovation manager and e-commerce design manager; and Robert Kiacz, Integrated Product Services design and innovation manager.

The DS Smith experts are working alongside McCann to interview and assess the MBA students’ innovations.

DS Smith believes it has given the students ambitious tasks to support reuse and keep materials in use for as long as possible.

The company says it is a key supplier of e-commerce packaging to well-known e-commerce businesses where the packaging is typically recycled after use or reused within the home before being recycled.

“The circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste pollution, keeping products and materials in use, regenerating natural systems and offers an alternative solution to the current linear economy based on a ‘take, make, consume and dispose’ mindset,” continues McCann.

The business also provides secondary packaging for the white goods sector, typically single-use. DS Smith states those items are returned to the company for recycling or recycled through third-party waste management partners.

“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, [environmental] sustainability goals, and the growing demand for sustainable packaging,” McCann concludes.

“We are thrilled to invite the circular economy designers of the future into space and see how they will address the challenges we pose to them.”

For all the latest packaging and printing industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.