Sonoco commits to sustainable packaging and recycling goals

Sonoco commits to sustainable packaging and recycling goals

Company says commitment supports the food industry’s efforts to reduce food waste.

August 7, 2018
Edited by DeAnne Toto

Hartsville, South Carolina-based Sonoco has announced that it is expanding its environmental and social stewardship initiatives to include commitments to achieve greater packaging sustainability and recycling. The packaging company says the move supports the food industry’s efforts to reduce food waste, according to the company.

Sonoco’s new time-based commitments, along with an update of its ongoing efforts to improve environmental, governance and social measure, are highlighted in its 2017-18 corporate responsibility report, “Better Packaging, Better Life – for a Better World,” which is available at

By 2025, Sonoco says it will commit to more sustainable use and increased recyclability of packaging by taking a number of steps:

  • increasing the weight equivalent of the amount it recycles, or causes to be recycled, from 75 percent to 85 percent, relative to the volume of packaging it places into to the global market place;
  • increasing the use of postconsumer recycled resins in its plastic packaging from 19 percent to 25 percent;
  • ensuring that approximately 75 percent of its rigid plastic packaging can carry the relevant on-package recyclable claim;
  • refraining from using resin additives that purport to degrade in landfills or waterways by simply breaking up into smaller pieces; and
  • ensuring al its production facilities using plastic pellets have systems to prevent discharges into the environment.

Rob Tiede, Sonoco president and chief executive officer, says, “Sonoco believes packaging plays an important role in protecting food from damage and spoilage while extending shelf life at retail and home. In fact, greater adoption of food packaging technologies to prolong the shelf life of produce and proteins has the potential to divert 72,000 tons of food waste from landfills in the United States, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 329,000 tons per year.”

He adds that solving the food waste challenge requires the collective intellectual capital and collaboration of industry experts and thought leaders in food science, agriculture, horticulture, packaging, transportation and material science.

In response to this challenge, Sonoco has committed $2.73 million to Clemson University to create a joint initiative called Sonoco FRESH (Food Research Excellence for Safety and Health). Sonoco also is a joint development partner in the Plant City, Florida-based robotics company Harvest CROO Robotics, which is focused on improving the supply chain for fresh produce by connecting harvesting technology with new packaging technology.

“Our mission is to deliver breakthroughs to help the entire packaging industry and ultimately have a major impact on reducing food waste while increasing access to fresh, nutritional foods for millions of people,” Tiede adds. “Meeting this challenge requires a holistic approach to the entire life cycle and working to identify opportunities to reimagine process, science and technologies associated with harvesting, packaging, supply chain and consumer education and perception.”