Sonoco to move manufacturing plants to landfill-free status where possible, CEO says, aims for 10% of company's global operations to achieve landfill-free status by 2015

HARTSVILLE, South Carolina , July 25, 2011 (press release) – Sonoco (NYSE: SON), one of the largest diversified global packaging companies and one of the largest packaging recyclers in North America, today announced goals aimed at moving its manufacturing plants to landfill-free status, according to Harris DeLoach Jr., chairman and chief executive officer.

    “While we have always worked to reduce landfill wastes from our own plants, we are now focused on taking the next step in moving our operations to landfill-free status where possible.”

To achieve landfill-free status, Sonoco operations must divert 99 percent of all wastes from landfills, said DeLoach. The Company has implemented employee-driven programs at five manufacturing plants in the Company’s Packaging Services, Consumer Packaging, and Tubes and Cores operations that are focused on reducing waste streams to less than 1 percent (on a waste-to-landfill ratio) by the end of 2011. In addition, the Company has established a goal to have 10 percent of the Company’s global manufacturing operations achieve landfill-free status by 2015.

“As one of the largest packaging recyclers in North America, we have established programs through our Sonoco Sustainability Solutions, LLC (S3) service that are eliminating landfill wastes at our customers’ manufacturing plants and have moved 10 plants to land fill-free status,” said DeLoach. “While we have always worked to reduce landfill wastes from our own plants, we are now focused on taking the next step in moving our operations to landfill-free status where possible.”

Sonoco’s Winston-Salem, N.C., corrugated point-of-purchase display manufacturing facility is the Company’s first plant to move to landfill-free status, according to David Holcomb, director of manufacturing, Sonoco-Corrflex. The plant is equipped with corrugators and converting equipment, including die cutters, printing presses, folding and gluing lines, and its waste stream included corrugated materials, plastic films, wraps, bands, ink containers, cutting dies, batteries and standard facility recyclables.

Beginning in 2008, the plant’s employees formed a “Green Team” that was initially focused on reducing the plant’s landfill wastes by 50 percent over 18 months. Within that time frame, they were able to reduce wastes by 65 percent and currently are achieving a less than 1 percent waste-to-landfill ratio. As a result of its employees’ efforts, the Winston-Salem plant was honored with a 2010 North Carolina Triad Green Award for its waste reduction improvement.

“The most important lesson learned was to never accept ‘it can’t be done’ as an answer,” said Holcomb. “A case in point was cutting dies (used to perforate displays from sheets of corrugating paper). Historically, there was no outlet for diverting dies from landfills. However, through the work of our team and suggestions from a customer, we have now sent some 65,000 pounds of dies to a waste to energy facility.”

Sonoco-Corrflex has set up recycling programs in two other fulfillment/promotional pack sites, and has identified other operations in which it will work to move to landfill-free status in the near future. In addition, Sonoco has programs in place at the Company’s Hartsville tubes and cores converting plant and its West Chicago, Ill., composite can plant to achieve landfill-free status by end of 2011.

In related news, Sonoco also released its 2010-2011 Annual Sustainability Report, which outlines the Company’s continued progress in achieving its global sustainability targets. Interested stakeholders can view the report on-line at www.sonoco.com/sustainability. As an added feature, sections of the report can be viewed by scanning QR codes.

About Sonoco

Founded in 1899, Sonoco is a $4.1 billion global manufacturer of industrial and consumer products and provider of packaging services, with more than 300 operations in 34 countries, serving customers in some 85 nations. The Company is a proud member of the 2010/2011 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. For more information on the Company, visit our website at http://www.sonoco.com/.

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