Cardboard meets Deeptech: DS Smith accelerates smart packaging solutions with BeFC

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  • Packaging giant DS Smith announces collaboration with startup BeFC
  • Companies will explore sustainable and cost-efficient smart packaging solutions made from recyclable paper  
  • Partnership forms part of a wider goal to ensure supply chain efficiency, reduce waste and accelerate the transition to a circular economy

23th April 2024. DS Smith has today announced a new partnership with Bioenzymatic Fuel Cells (BeFC), a pioneer in the development of fully recyclable smart tags.

French start-up BeFC was created in 2020 with a vision to replace batteries with biofuel cells. Since then, BeFC has advanced its work in developing digital printed solutions, which are cost effective and fully recyclable.

Sustainable packaging leader DS Smith’s involvement forms part of the company’s £100m R&D and innovation investment announced in 2021 to accelerate work in the circular economy and offer packaging that has less impact on the environment.‍

Together the companies will investigate smart packaging solutions made from recyclable paper, aiming to reduce waste, monitor quality, and ensure supply chain efficiency during distribution and transportation. Specifically, this will focus on:

  • Product tracking. Embedding a bespoke sensing platform and data protocols in digital solutions, allowing for real-time tracking and monitoring of products. This enhances the consumer experience and helps with supply chain optimisation.
  • Reducing waste: Extending the shelf life of products by providing accurate information about freshness and expiration dates, helping to address wastage.
  • Efficiency in transportation: Enabling better load optimisation, reducing the carbon footprint associated with shipping, also helping to save on operational costs.‍
Magnus Renman, Group R&D Director at DS Smith said“Corrugated packaging together with smart tech has a huge potential to reduce waste across the supply chain but we’re not quite yet where we need to be. We need more smart solutions that tackle inefficiency, cost and, most importantly, carbon emissions. We’re excited to be addressing this challenge head-on with BeFC through innovative, circular solutions designed to slash losses and improve sustainability. With BeFC’s transformative technology but we’re set on revolutionising how every industry tackles the scourge of supply chain waste."
Dr. Jules HAMMOND, CEO & cofounder, BeFC, said“The DS Smith x BeFC collaboration is a great example of combining shared expertise and resources to tackle inefficiencies and reduce waste and carbon emissions in supply chains whilst also understanding and validating compatibility with relevant recycling streams. We’re proud to announce this partnership as we work together towards more cost-effective supply chain management and it’s our belief that smart packaging solutions offer limitless possibilities to industry”.

About DS Smith

DS Smith is one of the leading global providers of corrugated cardboard packaging, as well as being active in recycling and paper manufacturing. The company plays a significant role in the value chain across various sectors, including e-commerce, FMCG, and industrial. With its mission to "Redefine Packaging for a Changing World" and its sustainability strategy "Now and Next," DS Smith is committed to inspiring the transition to a circular economy. It offers multiple circular solutions to its customers and society at large by replacing problematic plastic materials, eliminating carbon from supply chains, and providing innovative recycling solutions. The ambitious box-to-box model in 14 days, design capabilities, and innovation strategy lie at the heart of this commitment. Headquartered in London and listed on the FTSE 100, DS Smith operates in over 30 countries with approximately 30,000 employees. The company is a strategic partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The foundations of the company were laid in the 1940s when the Smith family started a business specialised in manufacturing boxes.‍

About BeFC

Inspired by nature, BeFC’s mission centres on environmentally friendly, cost-efficient printed digital solutions, addressing the circular economy across wide-ranging sectors including healthcare, point-of-care medical testing, wearables, consumer goods and smart logistics. The result of decades of academic research BeFC has created the first paper-based biofuel cells which use paper, sugar and enzymes to generate electricity; resulting in a viable and eco-friendly alternative to batteries. Created in 2020, BeFC’s objective is to minimise the cost and environmental impact of microelectronics by printing both energy sources, in the form of biofuel cells, and electronic circuits on paper. With the support of Bpifrance public grants, BeFC will build its first factory in France with the aim of enabling smart, sustainable solutions by 2025.