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Celebrating Global Recycling Day

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Today, March 18, is Global Recycling Day (GRD). Established in 2018 by the Global Recycling Foundation and recognized by the United Nations, this day celebrates the role recycling plays in preserving our planet.

At Graham Packaging, we understand the importance of recycling and know the opportunity incorporating recycled materials plays in reducing our environmental impact.

Learn more about how we are advancing recycling through our operations and strategies while keeping in mind the mission of GRD all year long.

Building a Circular Economy: We are continuously working towards building a circular economy for rigid plastics through strategic sourcing, increased PCR (post-consumer recycled resin) use, designing for recyclability, reduced waste and water consumption and partnership with customers and suppliers. Recycling plays a vital role in a circular economy, acting as the mechanism that closes the loop on material usage. Reincorporating recycled materials into the production cycle – like utilizing PCR in our bottles – minimizes waste, promotes sustainable consumption and fosters a more efficient use of resources. This drives forward the principles of a circular economy where materials are continually reused and regenerated.

Increased PCR Usage: PCR often includes plastics such as PET (#1), PP (#5) and HDPE (#2), which are widely recycled and then reprocessed into a resin that is used to make new packaging. At Graham, we strive to incorporate higher levels of PCR in our products with a goal of an average of 20% PCR in our product portfolio by 2025. Using PCR in packaging reduces a product’s environmental impact. In fact, utilizing PCR reduces energy consumption by at least 79% and reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by at least 67%. Additionally, manufacturing products from recycled PET, HDPE and PP reduces GHG emissions the same amount as taking nearly half a million cars off the road.*

In-House Processing of PCR at Graham Recycling Company (GRC): Located in York, PA, our mechanical recycling facility is one of the largest plastic recycling plants in the United States. Focused on recycling #2 HDPE bottles into PCR, this in-house capability provides large volumes of recycled content for packaging production. This facility saves energy and natural resources while significantly reducing GHG emissions by diverting hundreds of millions of pounds of plastic from landfills. In 2023, GRC processed 35.7 million pounds of PCR material.

Pioneering Recycling Solutions with the National Lubricant Container Recycling Coalition (NLCRC): One of the known “problem plastics” are the black bottles typically used for petroleum lubricants. Currently, these bottles are not considered recyclable due to leftover oil residue in the container, which can be a contamination issue when mixed with other items in the recycling stream. In order to address this issue, we’ve partnered with the NLCRC to establish a recycling system for lubricant bottles that increases access to recycling for U.S. consumers. In 2022, the NLCRC launched the industry’s first collaborative recycling pilot program and as of February 2023, the program has successfully recovered 760 lbs. of hard-to-degrade plastic — the equivalent of diverting more than 6,000 quart-sized oil containers from landfills.

In conclusion, GRD serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of recycling in preserving our planet and building a more sustainable future. By recycling, we can reduce waste, conserve resources, and mitigate environmental impact, creating a better tomorrow for generations to come.

*According to the U.S. Plastics Pact

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