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Sonoco CorrFlex's Rural Hall Plant Achieves 95% Landfill Diversion

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Sonoco Recycling LLC, a unit of Sonoco (Hartsville, S.C., USA) and one of the largest packaging recyclers in North America, reports that Sonoco Conflex's Rural Hall, N.C., facility has successfully diverted more than 95% of its waste from landfill. The plant is the second CorrFlex facility to receive a silver-tier Star Award.

In September 2011, employees at the Rural Hall fulfillment facility formed Team Green, focused on achieving landfill-free status in two years. Since the plant is a fulfillment facility, its materials mix frequently changes based on the current customer and project. One of the major challenges for the team was staying on top of the flux of materials and determining the best outlet for each. To better understand their current program, the team began tracking landfill and recycling tonnage. Dumpster contents were monitored, assessing those areas that needed work to reduce the plant's landfill tonnage. Common recycling areas were set up in production and office areas, and employees were encouraged to bring in their recyclables from home.

The constant change within the temporary work force at Rural Hall posed another challenge for Team Green when implementing a shift in the plant's recycling culture, as the personnel within the work force changes daily and many are non-English speakers. By working closely with the plant's temporary staffing agency and using bilingual labeling, Team Green was able to overcome many recycling issues.

"In just eight months, Team Green was able to divert more than 95% of Rural Hall's waste through a mix of recycling, reuse, and waste-to-energy," said Harris DeLoach III, Sonoco Recycling representative for the Rural Hall facility.

A strong component of Rural Hall's recycling program is the initiative to reuse articles that aren't recyclable, or are difficult to recycle. Many old inventory items such as bags or boxes, previously slated as waste, are now distributed among employees. This initiative also includes items that can be reused by local non-profit organizations. Used work gloves, scrap bubble wrap, and other items that were once thrown away now benefit non-profit educational programs within the community. Used computers, printers, and other inventory items are donated to public schools in need of supplies for art or learning.

Additionally, management agreed to set up an Employee Recycling Account to collect funds from the new programs. The account is split at the end of the year among all permanent employees.

Created to recognize customer and Sonoco facilities for achieving significant milestones in landfill diversion and waste stream reduction, the Sonoco Sustainability Star Award program is comprised of three tiers:

  • Gold Star Awards that recognize facilities having achieved 99% landfill diversion
  • Silver Star Awards that are given to facilities achieving 95% landfill diversion
  • Bronze Awards that recognize facilities having made significant waste reduction achievements.

With 50 locations worldwide, Sonoco Recycling annually collects approximately 3 million tons of old corrugated containers, various grades of paper, metals, and plastics. Currently, it operates six material recovery facilities (MRFs) and serves nearly 150 communities in which curbside-collected residential and commercial materials are processed.


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