The cyclos-HTP Institute, Aachen, Germany, tested polypropylene (PP) packaging from Sonoco, Hartsville, S.C., for recycling and product responsibility, and discovered that Sonoco packaging solutions offer an extraordinarily high recyclability of close to 100%.

The institute analyzed a given packaging’s materials and assessed how it is actually recycled in the industrial-scale recycling streams established in Germany and other European countries. Then, cyclos-HTP ran the packaging solutions through real sorting systems, a testing concept that piqued Sonoco’s interest.

“When we design new packaging solutions, we consider three main aspects—Does the new solution safely protect sensitive goods? Does it fit in with and simplify consumers’ everyday lives? But, equally important, how can we make the packaging as sustainable as possible by using recyclable materials?” says Andreas Rothschink, sales director Sonoco Europe. “For our plastic packaging solutions, we rely on high-quality PP. By working with cyclos-HTP, we received solid proof that our packaging solutions have a recyclability of close to 100% and can actually be recycled just as we intended.”

cyclos-HTP tested a packaging that is similar to solutions used by a variety of brands. Its base is a Sonoco injection molded (IML) container, which is covered by a plastic lid and an aluminium membrane produced by other manufacturers. The final score after testing showed that Sonoco’s container has a recyclability level of up to 98%, with small deductions for printing color and finish. Together, with the aluminium membrane and the PET plastic lid, the tested solution achieved an overall recyclability level of 88%.

“The test result shows, if clients want to raise the recyclability of their packaging to more than 90%, mono-material is key,” says Rothschink. “We can provide both containers and lids made from PP. Customers can also use PP membranes for products that don’t require high barrier properties, such as chilled food or dairy products.”

For Sonoco, one major takeaway from the cyclos-HTP analysis was the benefits of mono-material packaging.

“The analysis confirms one principle behind our packaging development—given the current status of the German and other European recycling systems, the best way that we can ensure our packaging’s recyclability is to use as few different materials as possible,” says Rothschink. “To further increase the recyclability of its plastic packaging, Sonoco will continue to focus on mono-material solutions with a recyclability of close to 100%.”