US-based packaging company Sonoco has added capabilities for post-consumer recovery and recycling of paper cups at its paperboard mill in Hartsville, South Carolina.

The company’s Hartsville mill will accept paper cups in bales of mixed paper to be used as raw material for producing new paperboard.

Prior to this, Sonoco’s ten paper mills in the US had validated their acceptance of rigid paper cans in mixed paper bales from material recovery facilities (MRFs).

The company operates ten mills in various US states, including Tennessee, California, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Washington and Kansas.

Its latest announcement extends the acceptance of paper cups at the Hartsville mill.

Sonoco said that further testing is underway with the intention of expanding the recycling of cups to all mills that make use of residential mixed paper.

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Sonoco global environment, sustainability and centralised technology vice-president Elizabeth Rhue said: “This is one of many steps Sonoco is taking to further our commitment to responsible material sourcing at our manufacturing operations, while building material circularity into the broader industry.

“If a consumer recycles a paper cup or an EnviroCan paper container, and it is sorted into the mixed paper stream, the products can now be sent to our Hartsville mill to be turned into a number of new fiber products, including new EnviroCan containers.”

Last October, Sonoco expanded the post-consumer recovery and recycling possibilities for its EnviroCan paper containers in the US.

Following confirmation that its mills could recycle EnviroCan paper containers in residential mixed paper, the company decided to validate its ability to recycle similar polycoated fibre-based containers through the post-consumer mixed paper stream.

In September last year, Sonoco partnered with technology start-up AMP Robotics to make spiral-wound paper canisters with steel bottoms more widely recyclable.

The partners will develop a material category within AMP’s neural network to identify and sort the paper cans.