Graham Packaging touts plastic recycling progress

Packaging firm’s sustainability report includes updates on its rPET use and other recycling efforts.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Graham Packaging says its recently released 2019 Sustainability Report “provides a comprehensive overview of the progress made in 2019 toward sustainability across all areas of the company, and offers a glimpse into its objectives for 2020 and beyond.”

The company has focused on sustainability as a core competency, according to an article prepared for  Recycling Today in June 2020 by Balaji Jayaseelan, Graham Packaging’s director of sustainability and regulatory affairs.

“Progress has been the driving theme for what we have accomplished in 2019, as well as what we are striving for in 2020,” says Mike King, CEO of Graham Packaging. “The goals we implemented in 2018 have gained momentum, and we will continue to exhibit our passion and energy to create positive change for our customers, community and employees.”

Graham Packaging says in 2019 it made strides in initiatives outlined in its 2018 Sustainability Report, including:

  • a 56 percent increase in the use of recycled-content polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) content;
  • consuming 32,850 tons of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) post-consumer resin (PCR);
  • 375 million containers diverted from landfills by Graham Recycling Operation; and
  • using more than 25 percent ocean-bound PCR content in a single bottle.

Graham Packaging says it has been working in coordination with sustainability-focused organizations, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Recycling Partnership and the Better Plants Program. The firm says it working with those organizations on several initiatives in 2020, including:

  • increasing its use of PCR — including ocean-bound plastic — by incorporating an average of 10 percent PCR;
  • conducting more than 25 life cycle assessments to help communicate the value of sustainability to its customers;
  • innovating to provide product lightweighting, recyclability, durability and reusability; and
  • reaching a goal of 98 percent of its products being recyclable by continuing to design for recyclability across all product lines.

“While we recognize the challenges of adopting aggressive sustainable packaging practices, we also acknowledge it is a commitment that is both necessary and achievable,” says Tracee Auld, chief sustainability officer of Graham Packaging. “As a leader in sustainable packaging for five decades, we accept and embrace the responsibility we have to our customers, consumers and the planet to help create a healthier, more sustainable environment for future generations.”

Graham Packaging designs, makes and sells blow-molded plastic containers for a variety of consumer products sectors, including food and beverage, household, personal care and automotive lubricants. The company says it produces more than 16 billion container units annually at its nearly 70 plants in North America, Asia, Europe and South America. In 2011, Graham Packaging was acquired by Reynolds Group Holdings.

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