Skip to main content

At Sonoco, we've set aggressive carbon reduction targets to meet the growing demands of climate change. Particularly for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Our goal has been to reduce those emissions by 25% by the year 2030.

Commitments like these require a holistic approach. From the energy efficient equipment we install, to certain technology upgrades and even our world renowned packaging innovations. The little things add up, so nothing is overlooked by the global operations team here at Sunoco.

In 2022, operations began looking outside of the company for other ways to accelerate targets and meet company-wide commitments. They contracted with a third party provider to help identify and procure what's known as a Virtual Power Purchasing Agreement. In early 2024, we announced our first ever VPPA.

An agreement like this allows us to support the development and investment in wind, solar, or other renewable energy projects in exchange for Renewable Energy Credits or RECs. This helps power companies fund capital intensive renewable projects, while simultaneously helping us meet our mission reduction targets, quickly and efficiently through these RECs. 

In this edition of sustainability unpacked, we take a closer look at our first ever VPPA, what it is, what it looks like, and the potential impacts on our initiatives.

Around 2020, we began evaluating our emissions reduction targets and sustainability roadmap for the years ahead. Thinking of ways we could best meet these initiatives by our target year of 2030. Our research showed we could accelerate our commitments through what's known as a VPPA; a Virtual Power Purchasing Agreement. A long-term agreement that could make up about a third of our emissions reduction goals.

We met with internal stakeholders and our sustainability services provider in L Group to discuss options for a VPPA in the years ahead. We evaluated opportunities, aligned best with our goals, and worked with executive leadership to secure buy-in before finalizing a deal with ENGIE North America in late 2023. The opportunity, the first ever in company, history supports a 270 megawatt wind turbine in Crockett County, Texas, the southwestern part of the state. The facility has about 60 turbines, enough electricity for about 130,000 homes. Sonoco will receive RECs associated with about 140 megawatts of this 270 megawatt system. This is about 52% of ENGIE's output within a 15 year period. In exchange, we'll be able to use renewable energy credits from this project to help meet our emissions reduction targets with one REC 
representing a single metric ton of carbon.

Now, navigating a VPPA is complex. It involves stakeholder buy-in across departments and the right fit with a development partner who understands your goals and opportunities. We believe we landed with the right partnership with ENGIE, a global leader in the net zero emissions transition. Their wind turbine project in Texas has broad support from local community members with hundreds of jobs and long-term tax revenues generated for both the county and local school districts. Upwards of more than $60 million, while also reducing our carbon footprint by 14% against our baseline. We couldn't be more pleased and proud to throw our support behind this initiative.

So now that we've unpacked this opportunity for Sonoco, what do you think? VPPAs can offer large emission reductions impact for corporations like us, though they're often misunderstood and can be cumbersome to navigate. In our short experience, they've been a valuable tool to provide the most cost effective and, in the end, impactful option for meeting aggressive environmental and sustainability goals.

The key to success is to develop clear procurement principles, involves senior leadership right away, and have your corporate finance teams engaged throughout the entire renewables procurement journey.

That's this episode of Sustainability Unpacked.

« View All Videos