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Sonoco Sustainability Report: Energy Use Drops 5%

Packaging firm Sonoco reduced its normalized energy use by 4.96 percent from 2010 to 2011, from 3.688 to 3.507 MMBtu per ton of product produced, according to the company’s latest corporate sustainability report.

Over the course of the year Sonoco’s total energy use dropped 4.84 percent from 16.5 to 15.7 million MMBtu.

In 2011 the company began a series of lighting and compressor projects aimed at reducing energy usage and saving money. Year-to-date, Sonoco has saved 4.3 million kWh through lighting retrofits and 5.3 million kWh with upgrades to its compressors. Sonoco plans to continue the project during the second half of 2012, the report says.

According to figures on the Sonoco sustainability web site, the company cut its greenhouse gas emissions by over 12 percent year-on-year, from 0.311 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per ton of product produced in 2010 to 0.273 in 2011.

However, figures in the actual report suggest the reduction over the course of the year is a more modest 3.13 percent. In the report the 2010 normalized greenhouse gas emissions are listed as 0.311 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per ton of product produced – the same as on the web site – but for 2011 the report figure is listed as 3.01, far higher than the 0.273 listed on the web site.

The company says historical data referenced in the report has been adjusted to reflect changes in business structure and improvement in data collection and accuracy, and so may differ from previous reports.

Figures for the company’s total greenhouse emissions and its normalized emissions from Scopes 1 and 2 are consistent between the two data sets. All these metrics fell by over 3 percent year-on-year.

The company has a target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2014, from 2008 levels.

According to the report, Sonoco is constructing a biomass cogeneration system at its Hartsville complex. The boiler system is expected to produce 16 MW of low-cost, “green” electricity and steam and to provide about $14 million in annual savings, the report says.

There is some confusion over Sonoco’s waste production figures as well. The report says that the company’s normalized landfill disposal increased 12.46 percent year-on-year. But by Environmental Leader’s calculations the metric – which rose from 0.033 metric tons per metric ton of product in 2010 to 0.0376 metric tons per metric ton of product in 2011 – actually increased 13.9 percent year-on-year (see graph, below).

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