Sonoco to invest $83M in recycled paperboard machine

Sonoco to invest $83M in recycled paperboard machine

The company wants to expand its footprint as a recycled paperboard producer with this investment.


Sonoco, a global diversified packaging company based in Hartsville, South Carolina, has released its 2019-20 corporate responsibility report, which highlights its efforts to improve its packaging sustainability and recycling efforts.

In the report, Sonoco states that it wants to strengthen its recycled paperboard mill system. The company says it will invest $83 million in transforming its Hartsville corrugated medium machine into a state-of-the-art recycled paperboard machine with an annual production capacity of 180,000 tons.

“We are calling this investment Project Horizon because it ensures the long-term viability of our Hartsville paper mill complex and places our U.S. and Canada recycled paperboard mill system into the top quartile of performance from a cost perspective,” says Howard Coker, Sonoco president and CEO.

Sonoco says this investment is expected to make Sonoco the “largest and lowest cost producer of recycled paperboard in the world.” Project Horizon will also reduce electricity consumption in the company’s U.S. and Canada paper mill system by 16 percent, which will, in turn, drive a 16 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Total water usage at the mills will decline 25 percent.

The report also highlights environmental milestones Sonoco achieved in the past year, including reducing normalized greenhouse gas emissions by 1 percent and water usage by 2 percent. Since 2009, the company has reduced normalized greenhouse gas emissions by 24.6 percent, including a 33.6 percent reduction in direct emissions from operations, and water use by 42.4 percent.

The report also looks ahead at some of the company’s commitments for sustainable use and increased recyclability of packaging by 2025. Those commitments include:

  • increasing the amount it recycles or causes to be recycled from 65 percent to 85 percent, relative to the volume of packaging it places into the global marketplace;
  • increasing the use of postconsumer recycled resins in its plastic packaging from 18 percent to 25 percent; and
  • ensuring that about 75 percent of its rigid plastic packaging can carry the relevant on-package recyclable claim.

Sonoco reports that it made advancement toward these goals in the past year. In 2019, the company recycled or caused the recycling of 83 percent of the products it placed in the marketplace. That same year, the company also used 21 percent recycled content in its plastic supply chain, including 18 percent postconsumer content.

The packaging company also hosted its inaugural Sustainability and Food Waste Summit in September 2019. It will host a Food, Packaging and Sustainability Summit at Clemson University in February 2021 to explore the goal of ensuring consumer confidence in the fact that packaging can protect food and the environment.

Sonoco’s corporate responsibility report, “Committed to Our Purpose, Our People and Our Planet,” can be found online.