Cyclos-HTP, based in Aachen, was founded in 2014 with the self-proclaimed goal of classifying, surveying and testing the recycling capabilities of packaging and other goods. The institute analyses a given packaging’s materials and assesses how it is actually recycled in the industrial-scale recycling streams established in Germany and other European countries. To this end, cyclos-HTP runs 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 percent and can actually be recycled just as we intended.”

The result: almost completely recyclable packaging solutions

cyclos-HTP tested a packaging that is similar to solutions used by a variety of brands. Its base is a Sonoco 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 percent, with small deductions for printing colour and finish. Together with the aluminium membrane and the PET-plastic lid, the tested solution had an overall recyclability level of 88 percent. “The test result shows: if clients want to raise the recyclability of their packaging to more than 90 percent, mono-material is key,” says Andreas 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.”

Mono-material packaging for high recyclability

Sonoco’s IML containers are used for a wide variety of food – from snacks like precooked sausages to fresh dairy products such as yoghurt. In the dairy segment, the mono-material packaging outdoes other common solutions such as plastic containers wrapped in cardboard for a more naturalistic look. Made from two entirely different material groups, the cardboard wrap-around and the container need to be separated completely to be recycled. Many of these packagings, however, end up in the recycling systems unseparated, which is why they are attributed recycling rates of under 50 percent.

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 Andreas 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 percent.”

About Sonoco Europe

At roughly 70 operations across Europe, Sonoco provides customers with a wide range of consumer and industrial packaging solutions. Consumer goods packaging solutions include rigid paper containers, drums, and luxury tubes (also called rigid paper containers) with a variety of closures; plastic packaging; packaging services; and graphics management. Sonoco’s industrial division produces a portfolio of cores, tubes, and spools made from highly engineered paperboard or plastic for use with paper, textiles and specialty films. The Sonoco Thermosafe unit offers customers temperature assurance packaging solutions for the transport of temperature-sensitive products such as pharmaceuticals and other biologics. Utilizing a range of packaging materials, technical disciplines, material science and manufacturing capabilities, Sonoco takes a holistic approach to providing customized solutions that meet customers’ unique needs. To learn more, visit or read more on Linkedin.

About Sonoco

Founded in 1899, Hartsville, South Carolina-based Sonoco is a global provider of a variety of consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging, and displays and packaging supply chain services. With annualized net sales of $4.8 billion, the Company has 20,000 employees working in more than 300 operations in 33 countries, serving some of the world’s best known brands in some 85 nations. For more information on the Company, visit


Sonoco Consumer Products Europe

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