Canadian Packaging

Sonoco helping brands cut their eco-footprint

Leading consumer packaging products manufacturer Sonoco of Hartsville, S.C. says its inhouse-designed packaging sustainability software is enabling leading brand-owners achieve significant reductions in their landfill-bound waste through effective material substitution and elimination, downgauging of packaging structures, and the simplifying of package designs to improve their recyclability.


December 1, 2010
by Canadian Packaging Staff

Leading consumer packaging products manufacturer Sonoco of Hartsville, S.C. says its inhouse-designed packaging sustainability software is enabling leading brand-owners achieve significant reductions in their landfill-bound waste through effective material substitution and elimination, downgauging of packaging structures, and the simplifying of package designs to improve their recyclability.

“We are working to balance the growing demand from our customers, consumers and retailers for ‘greener’ packaging with requirements for convenience, performance and price,” says Jeff Schuetz, staff vice-president of global technology for the company’s Consumer Packaging business.

“Retailers and consumer product companies are increasingly integrating sustainability into their business strategies and looking for Sonoco to help make those efforts successful.”

Called True Blue, Sonoco’s line of sustainable packaging software tools and recycling services are designed creating quality consumer packaging that offer a clear environmental advantage over the ones they replace: either by source reduction, using more sustainable materials, requiring less energy, water or raw materials to produce, or generating fewer carbon emissions.

“Our True Blue brand gives consumer product customers a one-stop shop for sustainable packaging solutions,” says Schuetz. “By combining our True Blue line of products with our total packaging solutions capabilities, we’re creating real sustainable value for our customers.”

One of those customers is the New Orleans, La.-based PJ’s Coffee, for whom Sonoco developed and manufactures vibrant, three-ply, foil-based flexible coffee bags (see picture above) that require 10 per cent less material and 15 per cent less energy to produce than the traditional four-ply coffee bags—resulting in 10 per cent fewer carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, packaged foods heavyweight Kraft Foods was able to achieve significant carbon-footprint reductions by converting its Maxwell House, Nabob and Yuban brands of coffee from metal cans to the more environmentally-friendly rigid paperboard containers—featuring over 50-percent recycled content and boasting certification from the Rainforest Alliance’s chain-of-custody SmartWood program—without sacrificing packaging integrity or shelf-life properties.

Sonoco says it is also currently in the process of  converting the world’s leading infant formulas from metal to composite cans, which it says will result in significant reduction in material weight inputs, energy inputs, GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, and certain regulated air emissions.

Other notable examples include:
• Helping Unilever USA strengthen the brand image of its Suave shampoos and conditioners by redesigning its rigid plastic bottles with attractive new curves in the bottles’ walls to reduce their resin requirements by 16 per cent, while improving the overall strength of the bottles;
• Redesigning protective packaging for the Hewlett-Packard (HP) LaserJet printers to reduce the volume of protective foam by more than half, cut the pack’s corrugated weight by 69 per cent, and decrease overall packaging volume by 52 per cent, while making more of the packaging recyclable by using more of its components made from recycled paperboard.

Says Schuetz: “Because we’re not limited to just one sustainable packaging platform, technology or format, our customers can choose from a variety of innovative options that meet their unique performance, cost and sustainability requirements.”