HARTSVILLE, S.C. (News release) -- Sonoco has released its 2019-20 Corporate Responsibility Report highlighting the Company's ongoing efforts to achieve greater packaging sustainability and recycling and including an update on the ongoing efforts to improve environmental, governance and social measures. The Corporate Responsibility Report, Committed to Our Purpose, Our People and Our Planet, is available on the Company's website at www.sonoco.com.
The report highlights several key environmental milestones accomplished over the past year, including reducing normalized greenhouse gas emissions by 1.0 percent and water usage by 2.0 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.
To further strengthen its recycled paperboard mill system, Sonoco will invest $83 million in transforming its Hartsville, S.C., corrugated medium machine into a state-of-the-art recycled paperboard machine with annual production capacity of 180,000 tons. The investment is expected to make Sonoco the largest and lowest cost producer of recycled paperboard in the world. Called Project Horizon, the transformation will reduce electricity consumption in Sonoco'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 by mills will decline 25 percent.
"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," said Howard Coker, Sonoco President and CEO.
Announced in 2018, Sonoco's commitments for sustainable use and increased recyclability of packaging by 2025 include:
* Sonoco will increase the equivalent by weight, the amount it recycles, or causes to be recycled, from 65 percent to 85 percent, relative to the volume of packaging it places into to the global marketplace. In 2019, the Company recycled or caused to be recycled 83 percent of the products it placed in the marketplace.
* Sonoco is committed to increasing the use of post-consumer recycled resins in its plastic packaging from 18 percent to 25 percent. Sonoco utilized 21 percent recycled content in its plastic supply chain in 2019, including 18 percent post-consumer content.
* Sonoco will ensure that approximately 75 percent of its rigid plastic packaging can carry the relevant on-package recyclable claim.
As the world continues to grapple with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Sonoco continues to work diligently with its customers to aid in the production of packaging critical to protecting and treating patients and those on the front lines, joining others to produce face shields and packaging temperature-controlled diagnostic testing, partnering with a local farmers to provide 60,300 dozen eggs to North Carolina food banks, and providing medical packaging in the U.S., United Kingdom and Poland.
"More than 80 percent of our consumer packaging sales are linked to food products, and we are being called on to meet an increased demand for consumers who are staying close to home," said Coker. "I'm extremely proud of how our associates have rallied to our customers' calls for help during this crisis."
After Sonoco hosted the inaugural Sustainability and Food Waste Summit in September 2019, Sonoco FRESH will host the Food, Packaging and Sustainability Summit at Clemson University in February 2021. The Summit's Theme, Safe. Secure. Sustainable., will explore the goal of ensuring consumer confidence in the fact that packaging can protect food and the environment.