Sustainable Packaging

Global Sustainability Manager / Cassandra Snelling / Sonoco

May 18, 2022 Cory Connors Season 2 Episode 81
Sustainable Packaging
Global Sustainability Manager / Cassandra Snelling / Sonoco
Show Notes Transcript

https://www.linkedin.com/in/cassandra-b-snelling/

Are paper tubes recyclable?
What is the Enviro Can?
Have you hear of the Eco Reel that's returnable and reusable?

https://www.sonoco.com/

https://ororapackagingsolutions.com/
Looking to improve the sustainability of your packaging today? Check out:
https://www.landsberg.com/
The views and opinions expressed on the "Sustainable Packaging with Cory Connors" podcast are solely those of the author and guests and should not be attributed to any other individual or entity. 

https://specright.com/ This podcast is an independent production and the podcast production is an original work of the author. All rights of ownership and reproduction are retained—copyright 2022.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1329820053/ref=as_sl_pc_qf_sp_asin_til?tag=corygat

Cory Connors:

Welcome to sustainable packaging with Cory Connors today's guest is part of a really cool packaging company called Sonoco . She is Cassandra Snelling and she is the marketing manager and global sustainability. How are you?

Cassandra Snelling:

I'm doing well.

Cory Connors:

Cory , how are you? Good. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm excited to tell everybody about some of the products that you guys make, but can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get into packaging?

Cassandra Snelling:

Yeah, so you know, it's kind of a funny story. So I graduated from college in 2012 with a degree in English and a minor in sociology and.

Cory Connors:

Perfect transition to packaging, right.

Cassandra Snelling:

Such a natural transition. So you know, I didn't want to teach, I didn't want to do the things that you would normally do with those kinds of degrees and luck had it. One of my College classmates was leaving a Berry actually and gave me a recommendation. And so I was lucky enough to be hired on as a sales associate at Berry, or will really actually started as a a sales coordinator, so help the, the inside sales team and grew in their sales organization. And from there just you know, maintained a love of, of packaging . Cory Connors: That's excellent. And I have never heard anybody is of all the people I've interviewed. I think you're my 73rd interview. No one has said, oh, I wanted to go into packaging from when I was a kid. So it's always, I fell into it. I knew a person or, yeah. So, but then when people come into packaging, they don't leave. So there must be something nice. Yeah. I mean, I think it's been great and obviously you like it too. So

Cory Connors:

a couple of years under my belt. Yeah. So tell us about Sonoco . What is, what do you do? What are you known for a big packaging company?

Cassandra Snelling:

Yeah, so at Sonoco we're a large global company, so we're in about 34 countries I believe. And our net worth is about $5.6 billion. And really. Have a focus area in just about every packaging format. So historically you know, our iconic package has been our paper container but we also work in flexibles in plastic trays. Clamshells the healthcare industry where we're providing you know, tools for. Things such as you know, the Corona virus shot and things like that. So a little bit of everything. And and then most recently we completed our acquisition of the ball metal pack, a part of that group. So we acquired the aerosol cans and a few other things.

Cory Connors:

Oh, that's really interesting. I didn't know that they split that off. That's really. Yeah.

Cassandra Snelling:

So

Cory Connors:

we're excited. That's a, that's been a very popular option for packaging. The aluminum is really taken off last couple of years, especially. Have you worked on any of those products?

Cassandra Snelling:

So a few, so I've certainly had my hands busy with our paper container. So we have our Envirocon packaging and you know, that's got such a cool story. So we have our inviro Keon and we have both a metal end. And then in Europe we have our paper bottom and we're working on launching that paper bottom in the US . But yeah, but it's such an exciting packaging options. So what our group found is that, you know, that package can be recycled successfully today in the steel stream. At least the ones with the metal ends and it takes no upgrades from recycling centers or Murphs. So as long as they have. Yeah, that magnet will detect the metal in the can. It can be sorted successfully into the seal stream processed and those non steel components. So the paper parts of the can those can emit a little bit of energy in that incineration process. So there's an added benefit there. Yeah, and then used to make a new steel components. And so you know, that's one avenue and then we even went a step further and started doing testing in the paper stream. And so what we found is that those metal components can be separated out and through the pulping process and the paper components can use to make a new sheet. And then the non fiber paper components are separated and we can send those through to recyclers as well to follow that same sortation.

Cory Connors:

Wow. That's really cool. So the enviro can, is a paper tube with high graphic print on the outside, but Kraft on the inside and then it has either a metal or a paper bottom . That's correct. Right.

Cassandra Snelling:

That's the bulk of it. And then depending on, yeah, that's the bulk of it. And then depending on the field the field product, the internal components can be adjusted. So, you know, for example, If it's a coffee package, we know that coffee is super sensitive and so, you know, it might need a metalized layer on the inside, , to ensure that quality and things like that. So we can adjust the lining needs. But yeah, it's a great, it's a great, a great sustainable option. And again, you've got , two recycling streams that you could enter into it. That package.

Cory Connors:

Which as far as I know are the two most common streams for recycling and the easiest for Murph's to pull out either with, like you said, the magnet or go to the paper stream. That's great. Really cool. We'll have to spread the word about the, the inviro cam. Excellent.

Cassandra Snelling:

Oh yeah, please do that. Would make our, that would make our business development reps so excited. So we were, once we discovered that these two streams were successful and we always had a feeling we always kind of knew it could be, you know, recycled. It's just historically it's been, you know, how it is, if it's. Product. It gets a little we have some hesitation. Right, right. And and even at the consumer end, we get confused. Right. It's like, where do we put this item? And so we actually hired a business development. To start doing Murph outreach and we created a sales kit for not just them, but also for the municipalities. So once the municipalities say, Hey, yeah, we're going to take this. We have a, B to C kit so that they can start immediately marketing to their communities as well.

Cory Connors:

That is the key to this whole thing. In my opinion education, we have to tell everyone, everyone I'm talking about manufacturer. Customers end users. Murph's recyclers all the whole chain needs to know what to do with what, and if, if, until we get to that point where everyone knows, okay, this goes in that bin, this goes in that bin, or this can be recycled or this shouldn't be recycled. Until we get to there, we're, we're not done yet. And I think we've got a long ways to go, but it sounds like what you're doing is a huge improvement. Well done.

Cassandra Snelling:

Yeah, thank you. It's at least a step. Right. And we've got a lot of work to do, like you said, but it's a start for

Cory Connors:

sure. What do you think consumers need to know? As far as packaging goes to improve with recycling capabilities?

Cassandra Snelling:

Yeah, gosh, you know, I think the first step is just even learning what your municipality will take. So I think sometimes that can be a struggle because it varies as you know, not just from state to state, but from county to county there such a variable there. And you know, I think that that's really the first step. And then I think the second step is, you know, don't be afraid. Don't feel like you're, you're. Cleanup process has to be perfect. Right? So like for example, in paper mills, they can accept a bit of residue, you know? It doesn't have to be perfectly spotless, clean. Certainly we don't want a lot of stuff in there, but you know, it doesn't have to be time consuming and you don't have to feel bogged down to start your recycling journey. So I think the first is figuring out what is accepted and then the next. Just do your best, just rent it out, get it in the bin and do your best.

Cory Connors:

I agree. Westmark just did a study last year, two years ago that even grease and cheese, believe it or not in pizza boxes will not affect the quality of the recycled paper. So recycle your pizza. Put them in the, put them in the bin. We need the corrugated OCC is at an all time high in value. We need that old corrugated containers. So please keep recycling. So valuable. What, what do you have coming up that's exciting for you and your company? Anything new going.

Cassandra Snelling:

Oh, gosh, we have a lot coming up. So the first thing that's been top of mind recently, and we just finished filming our first episode this week is we're going to be launching a sustainability myth-busting series. Yeah. So that'll be the first episode we'll launch May 4th a good science day, right? May the fourth be with us. But you know, we're really excited about it. So again, going back to that education at multiple levels we hope that this will be a way for, you know, sure. Folks in the industry to have fun. Right. And, and see those myths that we know are myths debunked. But hopefully it'll also resonate with. The end users out there and get them excited and, and help fill them in on, on packaging. Because I think there's so many misconceptions. I mean, even if we look at at plastic for example, you know I was just at the natural foods expo west and. You know, a lot of folks had a lot to say about plastic and they would say, well, we'll just pivot to you know, a paper container option or, or this option. And it's like, well, you know, that there's plastic in that. Right. You know, you know, that it takes plastic to still make that package work. And so I think it'll be an exciting program. So we've got that coming up. And then you know, we have Some exciting other things socially coming up. So we have our earth day event. So we're going to be doing a big corporate earth day clean up event. So that'll be really nice. And and then we're also going to get to start talking a little bit more about one of our other great programs. We're going to highlight that during a national tree day, which I believe is May 16th. But we have a product called eco real, and that is a wooden reel that's used for fiber optic cables. And there's a really cool program around eco real. So at Sunoco, we you know, sell these wooden rails. And we allow our customers to return those. And and all they have to do is call us. We will send a truck to pick it up. We hire someone who breaks down these wooden reels so that we can really maximize that truckload. We get them brought back, we refurbish them, but then back together and resell them. And in doing that over five years now, we've saved about 300,000 trees I believe was the account. So again, another really good program that we have just you know, kind of trying to do the best we can and partner with our customers and make the world a little bit greener.

Cory Connors:

That's excellent. Are you going to star in the MythBuster episode?

Cassandra Snelling:

I will be in the first one. I will be in the first one, but you know, I'm really excited to to shed and share a spotlight on the great work that the folks around us are doing. So from our project managers, our engineers, and. Not just us, but all over the world. So you know, the first one we've got some us folks, but for the ones planned a little later on, we'll have some folks from Europe and China, which is going to be really exciting. And and talking about a little bit of everything we'll touch on LCAs and how those can be used to you know, pick your package and. You know, designing for sustainability really isn't too hard. It's just choosing the right package for your product and touching base on some of those recycling myths. So yeah, we hope we hope it will be a fun program for everyone.

Cory Connors:

So other than the aluminum cans that for the aerosol division and the inviro can and Thermo forums, do you guys have other capabilities?

Cassandra Snelling:

Oh, my goodness. Absolutely.

Cory Connors:

Tell us, tell us some of the highlights I looked at your website and I was overwhelmed. I was wow, impressive.

Cassandra Snelling:

Yeah, there's a lot. There's a lot. So we have, you know a molded fiber bowl , so that's pretty exciting. The trellis option. And so that's made out of sugar cane and is recyclable, and then we have a composability pending on that. So we're working on that certification. Certainly we have our thermoforming side with our trays and clamshells we have our. Reasonable businesses such as our wooden and plastic reels. And then we've also got a cool package called the paper blister. I don't know if you maybe came across that. I

Cory Connors:

haven't seen that one. What's that about?

Cassandra Snelling:

So it is a great way to kind of take the ma. Mixed up straight formats out of retail packaging. So for example, when you look at, you know, a pin pack today, you have the paperboard back in the plastic front. Right. And so what we've done is we've made a full paper version of that, so it can have a window. Now that window. Be a window that you can touch through, you know, so it would have to be for things like pins or you know, more common, good items, but you know, takes the plastic out just to again, make it easier to recycle and easier for the user. And then another benefit is. A little bit of a fuller billboard as well, because you've got more principle surface area. And then with that, they were also able to use a water-based technology that allows for a decrease in the VOC that are released, which is pretty exciting too.

Cory Connors:

So that that's amazing. And I've heard the term VOC is used in clean room technology often. Can you explain to the listeners what VOC.

Cassandra Snelling:

Great question. I don't know that I am the best to explain that. But I would love to get your take on it.

Cory Connors:

Oh, she sends it back. Yeah. So my understanding is it's variable Off gassing compounds. And basically the way it was explained to me is when you buy a new car, it smells like a new car. And those smells. The plastic off gassing in your vehicle. So as much as you might like the smells, you might want to roll down the windows for a few days and let those dissipate, they're not going to hurt you, but they're not the healthiest things to be breathing in for a long time. But it's something that we all need to be aware of that that new car smell is maybe not. Healthy thing for our bodies.

Cassandra Snelling:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So thank you. That's how I understand it too.

Cory Connors:

Yeah. Yeah. It's important that we, anytime somebody throws in an acronym, I always define it because you, people that are. High school students all the way up to PhDs and packaging are listening to this podcast. And I want to make sure everybody's on an even playing field.

Cassandra Snelling:

Absolutely. But yes, so absolutely those volatile organic compounds and just so yeah, it's, it's exciting that we get to decrease that a bit for sure.

Cory Connors:

Well, that's excellent. So what's the best way for people to get in touch with you and see.

Cassandra Snelling:

Yeah, so certainly LinkedIn is great. So you can look me up at Cassandra smelling I'm on LinkedIn. And then you can also reach out to us@sonocodotsustainabilityatsonoco.com.

Cory Connors:

That's a long email. So I'm going to write that down. So NOCO at or dot sustainability. Yeah.

Cassandra Snelling:

At sonoco.com at sonoco.com. Would you believe that sustainability is the noco.com was already taken?

Cory Connors:

Hi wood. It's a, it's amazing. And why would somebody have that? Right? Why would they use that website? Fascinating. Well, I'd like to thank Landsberg Orora for sponsoring this podcast. I really appreciate that. And thank all the listeners for listening. If you are listening, please subscribe. So you don't miss any of the great episodes and give us a review. If you have time. We always appreciate that. Thank you so much, Cassandra.

Cassandra Snelling:

Thank you.