Since its introduction in 2020, Sonoco Alloyd’s EnviroSense™ PaperBlister™ package has attracted attention and awards. ISRI named Sonoco Alloyd (Hartsville, S.C.-based parent company Sonoco is a member) as the 2022 Design for Recycling® Award winner. The American Forest & Paper Association gave its 2021 Innovation in Sustainability Award to the PaperBlister. Sonoco also received a 2021 Innovator Award in the category of Innovation in Design Optimization from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition for the packaging.
In addition to operating paper mills, plastics factories, and material recovery facilities, Sonoco recently acquired Ball Metalpack, a manufacturer of metal packaging for food and household products, and the largest aerosol can producer in North America. “We’re not just a converter—we actually make the raw materials,” says Scott Byrne, Sonoco’s assistant director for global sustainability. “We can evaluate, in real time, how our materials interact with the recycling infrastructure. We’re aware that what we put on the market has an impact on theecycling value chain.”
Made entirely from renewable resources, the PaperBlister is plastic-free, so it’s recyclable in the paper stream and is also available with Sustainable Forestry Initiative verification when requested. Because it uses water-based sealing technology, there are no volatile organic compounds connected with the package. “With PaperBlister, there’s no question that’s all paper; that’s all one material,” says Kim Sanderson, Sonoco marketing specialist. “So, that can be thrown, just like any other paper material that you have, into your curbside recycling.”
Sonoco states that PaperBlister delivers more efficiency than traditional plastic blister packs which require three times more shipping cartons, leading to increased weight, more packaging material, fewer packages per truckload, and more deliveries to ship the same amount of product. The PaperBlister runs on existing Sonoco Alloyd heat sealing equipment. “The capital equipment investment is not necessary for paper blister. So, if you have our Aergo line of sealing equipment, most air rolling sealing equipment can seal PaperBlister,” Sanderson says.
In addition to negotiating over a dozen agreements for PaperBlister to replace customers’ traditional paper-and-plastic blister packaging by the end of 2022, Sonoco Alloyd is working to gain certification for the product by the How2Recycle® standardized labeling program, which includes 400-plus brand owners and retailers. The labels are intended to educate the public, thereby increasing the availability and quality of recycled material.
Sonoco has been dedicated to reducing its environmental footprint for many years. The company is committed to reducing absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030 from a 2020 base year. It has committed to reduce absolute Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 13.5% from a 2019 base year by partnering with customers and suppliers. “The hope would be that not only is the PaperBlister more beneficial for the recycling stream, but we’re also going to drive some of the carbon intensity out of supply chains within the Sonoco organization,” Byrne explains.
Sonoco also is responding to new federal scrutiny of industry. The public will have until June 17 to weigh in on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate-related reporting rule, a win for industry groups that asked for more time to weigh on the first-of-its-kind proposal. Byrne acknowledges the SEC’s floating new rules on emissions reporting has prompted an internal review at Sonoco.
“We’re really kind of trying to ramp up the expertise internally, so we can answer those questions as our customers need to answer them,” he says. “We have a dedicated resource on staff, Liz Ernst, who is completely focused on lifecycle assessments. She does a great job trying to calculate the carbon intensity of the packaging we put on the market.”
Sonoco has outlined its sustainability initiatives in its corporate responsibility report.
Photo courtesy of Sonoco Alloyd. Caption: Sonoco Alloyd’s EnviroSense PaperBlister offers a recyclable alternative to traditional retail plastic-to-card blister packaging.