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Sonoco invests millions in URP tech

Sonoco is investing US$ 115 million (EUR 97 million) in its state-of-the-art recycling operation in Hartsville, South Carolina to process more than 160 000 tonnes of uncoated recycled paperboard (URB) per year.

The packaging giant says the conversion from a corrugated to uncoated board, known as Project Horizon, will be completed in the second quarter of next year. The new Hartsville machine is designed to be the lowest cost URB machine in the world. Project Horizon is expected to deliver US$ 30 million in annual cost savings by 2023.

A key element of the endeavour is a new stock prep system to provide nearly 600 tonnes per day of recycled fibre to the converted machine and other Hartsville cylinder machines.

The new stock prep system allows increased consumption of lower-cost mixed paper and old corrugated containers and is scheduled to be operational this October, says Tim Davis, vice-president of Sonoco’s paper and adhesives division. ‘There are a number of significant construction projects underway that will modernise the infrastructure of the entire Hartsville mill complex and allow for more efficient and safe handling of raw materials and finished goods,’ he says.

To reduce paper finishing and warehouse complexity and cost, Sonoco is also building a new offline winding operation and 102 000 square foot finished goods warehouse on the Hartsville complex. The new offline winding department will incorporate state-of-the-art equipment and should create 16 new positions.

As previously announced, Sonoco will exit the corrugated medium market by early next year and expects URP capacity through its US and Canada mill network to remain neutral at approximately one million tonnes.

Based on the progress of Project Horizon, Sonoco expects to close down its Hartsville two URB cylinder machines which will reduce annual capacity by more than 60 000 tonnes. The exact timing of the closures will depend on market conditions as well as the start-up of the converted Hartsville machine.

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