Packaging designers, engineers and material scientists at Sonoco Recycling are using the company’s proprietary sustainable packaging design software to help manufacturers reduce their packaging environmental footprint by substituting or eliminating materials, down-gauging structures, and simplifying packages to improve recyclability. Sonoco is also working with customers to reduce and ultimately eliminate landfill waste at their manufacturing facilities.
“We are working to balance the growing demand from our customers, consumers and retailers for ‘greener’ packaging with requirements for convenience, performance, and price,” said Jeff Schuetz, staff vice president, Global Technology, Consumer Packaging. “Retailers and consumer product companies are increasingly integrating sustainability into their business strategies.”
Sonoco’s True Blue™ line of sustainable packaging solutions and recycling services provides packages that offer multiple environmental advantages, including the use of more sustainable materials; reductions in the amount of energy, water and/or raw materials required; and/or the production of fewer carbon emissions. At PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, for example, Sonoco developed and is producing vibrant, three-ply, foil-based flexible coffee bags that require 10% less material and 15% less energy to produce and result in 10% fewer carbon emissions than traditional four-ply flexible coffee bags.
Sonoco also helped Kraft Foods convert its Maxwell House, Nabob and Yuban® brands of coffee from metal cans to more environmentally friendly rigid paperboard containers without sacrificing abuse resistance or shelf life. Less costly and more environmentally responsible than metal, the new cans are made from paperboard that contains more than 50% recycled materials and has received chain-of-custody certification from the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program. The move to Sonoco’s high-performance composite can bodies also reduced both brands’ environmental footprint through material, energy and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
“Our True Blue brand gives consumer product manufacturers a one-stop shop for sustainable packaging solutions,” said Schuetz. “By combining our True Blue line of products with our total packaging solutions capabilities, we’re creating sustainable value for our customers.”
Unilever USA strengthened its Suave® brand image, cut packaging costs and reduced its environmental footprint by working with Sonoco Global Plastics to redesign Suave’s rigid plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles. The attractive new curve in the bottles’ walls improved the overall strength of the bottles and reduced the resin required to produce the bottles by 16%.
True Blue eco-friendly point-of-purchase displays like the one Sonoco’s Global Services division designed and produced for Unilever’s Vaseline® Sheer Infusion™ body lotion are helping customers and their retail partners meet their sustainability and sales goals. By redesigning an existing floorstand wing unit, Sonoco cut the paperboard required to produce the display in half-from 65.2 to 32.65 ft2-without sacrificing its ability to attract customer attention.
One of Sonoco’s new protective packaging designs for Hewlett-Packard (HP) LaserJet printers reduced the volume of foam required by more than half, cut the pack’s corrugated weight by 69% and decreased overall packaging volume by 52%. Most of the pack’s components are made from recycled paperboard, so it’s easier to recycle than the previous protective packaging. And although it’s lighter, less expensive and more sustainable than the previous package, it provides the same level of product protection.
“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 needs,” added Schuetz. “Our True Blue brand leverages Sonoco’s skill and experience in developing superior design concepts that meet our customers’ performance, cost, and sustainability requirements.”
Sonoco is also helping manufacturers reduce and ultimately eliminate landfill waste through its fast-growing Sonoco Sustainability Solutions (S3) waste-reduction consulting service. By identifying recycling alternatives for materials being sent to landfills and developing a more comprehensive recycling program at Unilever’s Lipton Tea plant in Suffolk, VA, for example, Sonoco helped the largest tea processing plant in the U.S. become a zero landfill facility in 2009.