In one of the most innovative projects of its kind, Sonoco has enabled a supplier of vehicle oils and fluids to replace its costly metal container with a rigid paper-based can designed and manufactured by the Consumer Packaging division of Sonoco UK.
The result is a lower-cost, sustainable packaging solution that has all of the positive attributes and benefits of a metal container, but none of its downsides, says Sean Cairns, general manager, Sonoco Rigid Paper and Closures, Europe: "The fluids that would be sold in the cans are moisture sensitive, and there were a number of challenges we had to overcome.
"The tube needed to be durable enough to sustain the fluid’s four-year shelf life and strong enough to not collapse when the screw pourer cap was inserted during production. We also needed to counter the impact of spillage or staining that can occur during the production process."
The supplier had previously used steel containers for its vehicle oils and fluids, which are exported to a number of international destinations. Sonoco’s solution was a rigid paper container with metal ends that offers the same product appearance and protection for liquids, but at a lower cost and using far more sustainable materials.
"Sonoco Consumer Packaging completed a 12-week trial of the new container with the customer," Sean continues. "We measured the moisture content at regular intervals to make sure that the proposed packaging solution met the demands of the customer.
"The first delivery of the finished product, manufactured in Manchester at one of our European production facilities, took place in Autumn, and we are currently scheduled to deliver up to two million cans each year, depending on demand."
The rigid paper container demonstrates significant economic and environmental improvements in its life cycle assessment when compared to the steel can that the customer had used. Not only does it result in a 27 percent reduction in material weight inputs and reduce the customer’s shipping and handling costs, it also results in a 34 percent reduction in energy inputs, a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a two percent reduction in chemical bad actors.
Sonoco U.K. Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sonoco (NYSE: SON), one of the largest diversified global packaging companies and the world’s largest producer of paperboard cans.