Sonoco announces $2.7M packaging initiative with Clemson

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Sonoco has partnered with Clemson University to develop new technologies and forms of packaging to improve the fresh food life cycle and combat waste.

The Hartsville-based global diversified packaging company will contribute $1.725 million over a five-year period to the Sonoco FRESH (Food Research Excellence for Safety and Health) initiative, which aims to establish a multidisciplinary hub for innovation and research to advance fresh food packaging and distribution. Sonoco will also sponsor business-driven research projects totaling $1 million.

“Sonoco is committed to serving fresh brands, using packaging to tackle the challenges they face,” said Sonoco President and CEO Jack Sanders. “Optimizing fresh food packaging to extend shelf life and maintain quality makes fresh produce more accessible to communities, and helps brands and retailers extend sales opportunities and eliminate food waste.”

“Each year, the food industry loses $15.6 billion due to food spoilage at retail,” he added. “Modifying packaging design to extend shelf life by even one day can recover $1.8 billion of that loss — while feeding more people and reducing waste to landfills.”

Sonoco FRESH is an extension of the partnership that created the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson, which was created to “exploit the synergies that exist between the graphic communications and packaging science departments,” according to its website. The institute says it is the only university program in the country with a multidisciplinary approach to packaging as a core competency.

“We are honored to be working with Clemson, as reducing food waste is central to our combined efforts — and finding ways to extend freshness through new technology is key,” said Vicki Arthur, Sonoco’s senior vice president of plastic packaging and protective solutions. “We believe this partnership will deliver breakthroughs to help the entire packaging industry, and will have a major impact on the distribution of fresh food across the country and around the world.”

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