Sunkist: Carton Manufacturing

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Formed in 1893, Sunkist is a not-for-profit marketing cooperative owned by and operated for its citrus grower members in California and Arizona. In 1907, the growers formed Fruit Growers Supply Company (FGS) to provide most of the materials to help grow, harvest, and package fresh citrus.

5Ps Verified Case Study: Packaging
As part of its commitment to sustainable packaging practices, Sunkist is dedicated to improving the material sourcing and manufacturing of the FGS® corrugated cartons at the plant in Ontario, California. In 2010, FGS was awarded Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) certification for the 328,000 acres of forestlands the company owns and harvests, and in 2012, for the carton manufacturing plant. SureHarvest documented and verified the Ontario plant sustainable packaging program using the 5Ps of Sustainability™

Sustainability Highlights
Sunkist has a history of innovation and stewardship that is demonstrated in its effort to reduce the environmental impact of its fresh fruit packaging. Sunkist’s initiative to obtain SFI certification highlights its efforts, and illustrates the company’s commitment to make continual improvements to its package manufacturing.

By sourcing 100% SFI-certified materials for the production of its cartons, Sunkist supports forests managed to promote biodiversity, sustainable harvesting methods, and healthy habitats. The company expects SFI certification will help ensure a future fiber supply to meet global packaging needs while promoting long-term forest and community health. 

1. Sustainability Principles
Proud of its long history of adopting sustainable principles in packaging of citrus and other fresh fruit, Sunkist is dedicated to sustainable packaging practices that are good for the environment, productivity, and business.

2. Sustainability Processes
Control over the carton manufacturing process was an area in which Sunkist could achieve significant gains toward good sustainable packaging practices. The foodservice corrugated cartons used to transport Sunkist® fruit are manufactured in the FGS plant in Ontario, California, where the processes, practices and controls enable Sunkist to reduce the environmental footprint of packaging production.

3. Sustainability Practices
Dedicated to reducing the company’s environmental footprint, Sunkist took the initiative to adopt sustainable materials and methods to produce its corrugated cartons. Key carton design features include the use of water-based inks for printing, corn-based adhesives, un-coated cartons that are fully recyclable, using 65% recycled content, and virgin material from SFI-certified sources. 

FGS has integrated many resource conservation practices into its Ontario facility and manufacturing process. The plant captures 100% of its processing waste-water for in-plant reuse to manufacture the carton adhesive. Since 2010, 100% of irrigation for landscaping is reclaimed, recycled water from the city, cutting fresh water use at the plant by 7.8 million gallons per year. All carton trimmings and remnants are recycled. Lighting efficiencies include the installation of skylights for natural lighting so electrical lights are used only when needed. Light-misers are in place to detect when light conditions are low and high-efficiency bulbs are used to further reduce electricity use.

4. Sustainability Performance
Committed to SFI certification as a matter of company policy, Sunkist and FGS regularly conduct management reviews, evaluate program performance (in part internally and also through third party audits), and drive toward continual improvements through education and training. The employees at the carton plant are highly engaged in the daily operations. Company employees regularly monitor machinery to ensure it is operating properly to achieve quality, safety and efficiency standards. Energy use at the plant is meter monitored and tracked using the local electric utility company’s tools and resources. Water use is tracked monthly through two flow meters, one for total plant fresh water use, and another for recycled water used to irrigate the landscaping.

5. Sustainability Progress
Sunkist is committed to the continual evaluation and improvement of its packaging program. Sunkist and FGS management share corporate offices, which facilitates regular communication and weekly meetings. Carton plant staff regularly engages with management to balance goals with operational challenges. Energy consumption, water use and reuse data, and carton waste are monitored regularly, and reviewed throughout the year by facility staff. A packaging meeting is convened monthly to evaluate performance and improve efficiencies of the packaging and operations.

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