Collaboration needed to develop circular economy, says DS Smith


A white paper from DS Smith has said that collaboration throughout the supply chain is essential in developing a circular economy.

One Step Away from Zero Waste  suggests that materials are used and reused as efficiently as possible at the top of the waste hierarchy.


DS Smith Recycling Division European commercial director Mathew Prosser said: “Instead of treating waste as a waste, we need to see the value in it. There needs to be recognition of the cost, environmental and sustainable benefits of turning these materials back into something more useful once more, rather than directing waste to waste-to-energy or landfill sites.”

Following its Supply Cycle Think Tank workshop at the Resource exhibition in March, the white paper includes a number of enablers and surrounding the four building blocks of the circular economy. These are product design, business models, reverse networks and enabling conditions. 

The key findings under these themes are:

  1. Enablers and blockers can be interchangeable across all building blocks, allowing us to take either one step backwards, or one step closer to a circular economy.
  2. Product design – the role of procurement can help and hinder change. Incorporating recyclability at the design stage of products is the key to ensuring reuse again and again.
  3. Business models – we need to overcome resistance to change, have buy-in from senior management teams and the infrastructure within a company to implement change.
  4. Reverse networks – the legislative framework needs to encourage growth and not hinder development. We need clear political leadership supporting the ethos of the circular economy.
  5. Enabling conditions – a combination of regulation and fiscal measures is required to shape the circular and shrink the linear model.
  6. Collaboration is central to developing a resilient circular economy. Everyone within the supply cycle needs to collaborate to achieve the best potential.