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How Sonoco’s Project Horizon URB Machine Conversion Benefits Customers, Communities, and the Planet

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In just a few months we at Sonoco will celebrate the completion of Project Horizon, currently slated for the end of Q3 2022.

Project Horizon is a $125 million investment to update our corrugated medium machine in Hartsville, SC, to a state-of-the-art uncoated recycled paperboard (URB) operation with an annual production capacity of 180,000 tons.

The new machine is set to be the world’s largest producer of URB. In addition, there are a number of construction projects underway that will modernize the infrastructure of the entire complex.

An experienced provider of URB, Sonoco operates 23 paper mills globally with an annual capacity of 2.1 million tons. We’re excited to expand that capacity this year to not only better serve our customers but to build a more sustainable future for the 100-year-old Hartsville Mill Complex.

About Sonoco’s New URB Machine

The new Hartsville URB machine will be the world’s largest, with a daily production capacity of 500 tons. For reference, our next largest machine produces a little over 300 tons per day.

The updated fourdrinier machine boasts an array of capabilities:

  • A range of grade and caliper sizes to meet the needs of multiple markets and product lines
  • Two offline slitter/rewinders will offer improved ribbon quality and highly precise, narrow width slitting down to 2 ¾”
  • Lower variability across the machine width, creating a more consistent product

The Hartsville Mill Complex also benefits from the following updates:

  • New sitewide control system that can seamlessly share information across different aspects of the manufacturing process, promoting a higher level of automation
  • State-of-the-art cleaning system that creates more consistent paperboard, improving customer uptimes and tool life and creating less scrap
  • Modernized warehousing that allows for more efficient and safe handling of raw materials and finished goods

We look forward to bringing our customers a broad spectrum of high-value URB grades—from lightweight towel and tissue grades to heavy weight tube and core grades, and everything in between.

100% Recycled Fiber

The Hartsville No. 10 machine previously utilized 50% recycled and 50% virgin hardwood fibers to produce corrugated medium (used in cardboard boxes and similar products). After conversion, the machine will use 100% recycled fibers to produce paper.

Not only does Project Horizon represent a move to 100% recycled fibers, but the conversion also allows Sonoco to eliminate the manufacturing complex’s virgin pulp mill and chemical recovery operation.

By moving toward 100% recycled fiber, Sonoco is reducing electricity consumption, which drives reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and total water use. It’s all part of our overall sustainability commitment.

Project Horizon’s Impact

Project Horizon secures the future of the Hartsville Mill Complex, ensuring that the mill is globally competitive and that Sonoco can provide manufacturing jobs in the area for decades to come.

During the conversion process, we’ve also focused on utilizing local vendors and contractors for the project and have committed to spend at least $71 million in South Carolina along the way.

Project Horizon marks a win for domestic paper mills, for Sonoco's sustainability goals, and for our customers and our community. By updating our paper mill in Hartsville, Sonoco will be able to supply a broad range of URB products needed to support our customer’s future growth.