Graham Packaging Co. used 7 percent post-consumer recycled resin in its products last year, according to a new sustainability report issued by the company.
The packaging company, with 60 locations in nine countries, also used 2.5 million pounds of ocean bound plastics to create new products in 2021, the Lancaster, Pa.-based firm said.
Graham Packaging also produced "90.4 percent always-recyclable products" in 2021, with a goal of 100 percent of its output be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
Graham has a target of using 20 percent PCR by 2025, up from the 7 percent posted in 2021. The 2021 PCR numbers include 4 percent of recycled PET use and 10 percent high density polyethylene use, the report states.
While the company also indicated it processed 37.8 million pounds of material at its own mechanical recycling facilities in 2021, Graham also sees a future in so-called advanced, or chemical, recycling.
This approach reduces plastics to their molecular level so they can be reconstituted into new plastics that have the qualities of virgin material.
"In the short term, advanced and mechanical recycling will likely be complementary technologies. In the long term, we predict that advanced recycling may replace mechanical recycling because it allows mixed plastic waste streams to yield usable food-grade and non-food-grade PCR," the report states. "Additionally, it's a solution for packages that are difficult to recycle and may otherwise be thrown in the trash."
Graham also indicated the company reduced water usage by 14 percent since 2018 and greenhouse gas emissions by 1 percent since 2020. The company wants to reduce GHG by 30 percent from 2020 to 2030.
"In recent years, companies like ours have turned inward to evaluate how their operations impact the environment. But the year 2021 marked a shift in that mindset. It's no longer enough to be perceived as a sustainable company. Nor is it enough to set general benchmarks based only on internal observations," said Tracee Auld, chief strategy and sustainability officer at Graham Packaging, in the report.
"Graham Packaging is leading the way by asking, 'What does our industry need to do to truly make a difference?' And to answer that question, we're updating the way we'll measure our progress by exploring science-based targets. These will help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and show how we compare to others in our industry in 2022 and beyond," she said.
Graham Packaging, owned by Reynolds Group Holdings, makes more than 16 billion containers each year at nearly plants in North America, Asia, Europe and South America.