Trusted Since 1963

Sonderen and Sustainability

“With knowledge comes responsibility” – Unknown

Environmental responsibility has been an integral part of the Sonderen company culture and philosophy for many years. Paperboard packaging provides distinct advantages over other forms of packaging, and it fits with our corporate desire to preserve and recycle. We have a universal respect for our planet and its resources and Sonderen demonstrates these practices through two principal focus areas:

  • Environmentally Responsible Materials Sourcing
  • Company Wide Waste Reduction Practices

Sonderen believes that where we receive materials from, and who we purchase them through, is very important. We choose to affiliate with organizations that demonstrate a commitment to the environment. These partners are committed to protecting our limited resources and the communities in which we live. Also, as a Member of the Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC), we are committed to adopting the highest standards of sustainable operations and products.

To quote the Paperboard Packaging Council: “Using renewable resources -Many of the things which we extract from the earth are not replaceable. We can’t “grow” gold to replace what we’ve mined anymore than we can extract new oil once we’ve exhausted a well. Fortunately, the very opposite is true of the wood fiber from which paperboard packaging is made. Virtually all virgin paperboard consumed in the United States today comes from “tree farms” where trees are planted, harvested and replanted specifically for this end use.”


Sonderen manufactures folding cartons out of many types of paperboard including 100% recycled paperboard. This paperboard is produced using a range of 35% to 80% post-consumer content and is certified through the 100% Recycled Paperboard Alliance. (Visit for more information)

One of our primary suppliers, Clearwater Paper offers paperboard that does not contain reclaimed fibers however they have a responsibility to their people, community and environment. In 2016 they were honored as a Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Standard-Setter. They were also named a Pollution Prevention Champion by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Their environmental goals include decreasing energy consumption, reducing green house gas emissions, waste-to-landfill, and water consumption.

Manufacturing Supplies

We use soy-based printing inks and water-based coatings in our press-room as well as alcohol-free fountain solutions. We also recycle all of our aluminum printing plates and use water based adhesives to glue our cartons as well as long-lasting plastic pallets for internal processes to reduce the need to purchase wooden pallets.

Waste Reduction Practices


What is lean?

The principal goal of lean is to reduce waste. A company that implements lean practices will reduce their raw material usage, improve machinery & equipment usage and limit material waste in the manufacturing process all while improving productivity and throughput.

Sonderen is a member of the Inland Northwest Consortium for Operational Excellence. This Consortium “seeks out and promotes the best Lean Management practices in business, with the goal of strengthening each participating individual and member organization, while positively impacting the regional economy”. It is our goal to be a contributing member, while learning and implementing shared best practices.


Sonderen has replaced metal halide light fixtures with more energy efficient lighting and has installed over 2,000 LED lights throughout the plant to save on energy usage in addition to motion sensors in our warehouse so lights go off when no one is using them. We also reduce the thermostat and ask employees to turn off their computer monitors when they go home.


We are constantly reevaluating our pollution prevention opportunities to try to reduce our hazardous materials usage and production of dangerous waste. Each year we issue a pollution prevention plan to the city of Spokane. We neutralize all chemicals before disposing of them and closely monitor our hazardous material usage to make sure any changes we make do not shift the risk to the environment from one process, product, or environmental medium to another. Spent solvent is the only dangerous waste at Sonderen Packaging and is generated from cleaning ink off the printing presses. Our automated equipment allows less solvent to be exposed to the atmosphere. Installation of a solvent distillation unit has allowed us to recycle 90% of our solvent and has reduced our waste hauling by 95%.


Paperboard fiber can be recycled, biodegraded, composted, or incinerated to produce energy. The American Forest and Paper Association has announced that the number of communities collecting paperboard for recycling increased to over 60% in 2010. The paperboard package is now one of the most widely accessible packaging mediums that can be recycled. The Paperboard Packaging Council has made a royalty-free logo available to be used to indicate the sustainability and recyclability of paperboard packaging. (Ask your salesperson for details on this logo as well as many other recyclable logos available to print on your product packaging)

Internally, we recycle our paperboard, corrugated waste, metals, cans, plastics and office paper.


As part of the National Paperboard Packaging Week, PPC members’ partner with schools from local communities throughout the U.S. and Canada as part of the TICCIT (Trees Into Cartons, Cartons Into Trees) (pronounced “Ticket”) program.

TICCIT poster

TICCIT is an outreach and education program highlighting the natural renewability and sustainability of paperboard packaging. At the center of TICCIT is a mainstay of the typical school day: the milk carton. As part of TICCIT, milk cartons are collected out of the schools waste stream and re-used for planting new trees. Seeds and saplings are planted in the cartons, and then the new “carton-and-tree units” are planted in the ground. The cartons provide protection and a natural “water funnel” for the new trees. As the trees grow, the cartons breakdown; completing the trees into cartons, cartons into trees cycle.

Matt and Keva Sonderen have personally devoted their time to this project each year. They enjoy visiting Assumption Catholic School (their alma mater) and other area schools to teach the 5th and 6th grade classes about the sustainability of paperboard. The highlight of the day is planting the tree samplings into the milk cartons and spending time with the kids.

If you are interested in having Sonderen Packaging teach the TICCIT program in your local Spokane school please contact us!

SIA-planting-4 kids smiling IMG_0210 Assumption Group pic-1