Cascades Sonoco has unveiled a new production line of innovative, eco-friendly packaging at its facility in Birmingham, Alabama, US.

The company has also inaugurated the expansion of the Birmingham facility. The $17m investment will allow the plant to undertake the production of a water-based functional coating solution to create recyclable, repulpable and compostable containers.

Cascades Sonoco completed the expansion of the Birmingham facility and the installation of the new production line during last year.

The new equipment will use the company’s FlexShield, FluteSHIELD and SurfSHIELD water-based coating technology to produce 50,000t per year of coated paper and paperboard.

The investment will also enable geographic expansion for water-based products, especially in the Southeastern US.

Cascades Sonoco president and CEO Mario Plourde said: “Located in a strategically important region of the United States with the highest demographic growth and close to boxboard and containerboard manufacturing plants, this Cascades Sonoco investment in water-based coating solutions allows us to offer a greener alternative to our customers so that they, in turn, can meet the needs of the most discerning consumers when it comes to the environment.

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“Because they are recyclable, repulpable and compostable, this packaging can help the food service industry to significantly reduce its ecological footprint.”

The water-based functional and barrier coatings can be used as an alternative for the non-compostable applications used in the design of folding carton take-out containers.

“Because they are recyclable, repulpable and compostable, this packaging can help the food service industry to significantly reduce its ecological footprint.”

The coatings are also designed to replace the wax used in the corrugated industry.

Sonoco president and CEO Rob Tiede said: “This technology is the result of listening to our customers, listening to consumers, listening to the marketplace, then working to create something that solves a problem and fills a need.

“It also fits extremely well with our focus on finding sustainable packaging solutions, which are in such great demand today, and it perfectly aligns with our purpose as a company – Better Packaging, Better Life.”

The new production line is expected to enable the company to further diversify the range of products offered by the Birmingham facility.

The plant is specialised in manufacturing roll headers and roll wraps for the pulp and paper industry. It has a workforce of around 75 people.

Installation of the new machine is expected to generate 20 long-term jobs.

Cascades Sonoco is a joint venture of Cascades and Sonoco Products Company.