DS Smith launches industry-leading R&D and innovation centre, R8


R8 is a pioneering facility in the industry and will allow the company’s customers in Spain

to benefit from the latest innovation to accelerate their transition to a circular economy.

DS Smith, a specialist in sustainable packaging solutions, has unveiled its global Research and Development (R&D) and Innovation Centre, R8. The new facility is an industry pioneer and allows the group and its customers and partners to accelerate the research and development of radically innovative packaging solutions.

Located near Birmingham in the UK, the R8 facility includes a 4,000 m2 pilot room, four laboratories, conditioning chambers, an ideation and design studio, prototyping creation areas, and collaboration spaces. In addition to being the headquarters for the company’s Innovation and Research and Development teams, the centre is intended to lead industry applied research, maximising the growing demand for sustainable packaging and the necessary innovation to deliver it.

“Our customers are well-known consumer brands, online retailers and industrial players, so innovation and sustainability are very high on their agenda. Our Global Research and Development and Innovation Centre in the UK will facilitate the collaboration we know is necessary to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges,” says Ignacio Montfort, managing director of DS Smith Iberia.

Montfort highlights that “the new global innovation centre will allow us to offer the Spanish market innovative packaging solutions that incorporate new materials and technologies, supporting our customers in their transition to the circular economy”. “We believe in collaboration with customers and the industry in general to create products and services that reduce waste and optimise production in a sustainable way. At the heart of DS Smith’s approach, as reflected in our Now&Next sustainability strategy, are: a strong commitment to reducing plastics, creating new avenues for developing alternative fibers, and pursuing the total elimination of waste,” he adds.

With R8, DS Smith has created a collaborative space that allows it to cover a wide range of innovation under one roof: from the initial development of technology and materials, concept development, product testing and development, to prototyping and piloting for its customers.

Projects will be based on the main drivers of the industry: sustainability, supply chain optimisation and data leverage. In addition, other exploration projects of this Global Research and Development and Innovation Centre, R8, are smart packaging for the tracking and monitoring of the supply chain, alternative natural resources in paper manufacturing, reusable fiber-based packaging and technologies and advanced barrier technology for food and industrial applications.

Among R8’s cutting-edge technologies is a pilot line, inspired by the automotive industry and developed in Italy, that uses robots to manufacture boxes from multiple components and fill them at high speed.

Sustainability is an integral part of DS Smith’s business model, which is inherently circular, and supports the company’s Now & Next sustainability strategy. This ambitious plan focuses on setting goals to overcome the sustainability challenges currently facing the world, as well as those that will impact future generations, leading the transition to a circular and low-carbon economy.

In line with Now & Next’s commitment and DS Smith’s commitment to the circular economy, the R8 facility is carbon neutral. It has been designed for both reuse and deconstruction, and uses refurbished furniture, solar panels and aerothermal heat pumps.