HP, Unilever, Kraft Foods Leverage Sonoco Packaging to Cut Materials, Energy Use, Emissions

by | Nov 4, 2010

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Several of Sonoco’s customers, including HP, Unilever, Kraft Foods and PJ’s Coffee, are reporting significant savings in materials resources as well as cuts in carbon emissions and energy use and improved recyclability use thanks to the company’s sustainable packaging design software and recycling services.

Sonoco says its True Blue line of sustainable packaging solutions and recycling services require less energy, water and/or raw materials to produce or result in fewer carbon emissions.

As an example, Sonoco developed three-ply, foil-based flexible coffee bags for PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, that require 10 percent less material and 15 percent less energy to produce, resulting in 10 percent 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.

The new cans are made from paperboard that contains more than 50 percent recycled materials and has received chain-of-custody certification from the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program. The new package also reduced the brands’ materials use, energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Kraft Foods has been making significant efforts towards reducing product packaging, reaching its goal of cutting 150 million pounds of material from its supply chain two years ahead of schedule.

Mother Parkers is also making the switch to Sonoco’s rigid paper container from coffee cans for its Brown Gold, Martinson and private label brands, which will increase the overall recycled content of the package and reduce material weight by 27 percent, energy inputs by 34 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, reports R&D Magazine.

The food and beverage industry has been releasing a greater number of sustainable products over the past few years to meet growing demand from environmentally-conscious consumers and retailers to lower the environmental impact of their packaging.

In another example, Unilever cut packaging costs and reduced its environmental footprint by working with Sonoco Global Plastics to redesign the packaging of its Suave brand of shampoo and conditioners. The new packaging improved the overall strength of the bottles and reduced the resin required to produce the bottles by 16 percent.

Sonoco also redesigned an existing floorstand wing unit for Unilever’s Vaseline Sheer Infusion body lotion, which cut the paperboard required to produce the display in half from 65.2 to 32.65 square feet.

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 percent and decreased overall packaging volume by 52 percent. In addition, most of the pack’s components are made from recycled paperboard, so it’s easier to recycle than the previous protective packaging, says Sonoco.

Sonoco is also converting the world’s leading infant formulas from metal cans to composite cans, which average 50 percent recycled content by weight and provide the same performance as traditional metal cans in abuse resistance and shelf life, according to the company.

Sonoco is also helping customers reduce landfill waste through its Sonoco Sustainability Solutions (S3) waste-reduction consulting service. As an example, 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., the plant became a zero landfill facility in 2009.

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