Graham Recycling Company Celebrates 30th Anniversary
The plant is extremely important to Graham’s mission to create a circular economy.
Graham Packaging is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Graham Recycling Company (GRC). The facility opened September 26, 1990, running only one line and one shift. It now operates three lines with three round-the-clock shifts. (PT’s Matt Naitove wrote a feature this year taking a closer look at Graham’s recycling technology).
“When the GRC began operations 30 years ago, Graham Packaging was well ahead of the industry regarding recycling best practices,” said Mike King, CEO, Graham Packaging. “Today, the company continues its innovative trajectory with investments that will further support and expand the capabilities of our recycling company.”
The benefits of having an in-house recycling plant are twofold. Not only has it helped Graham become one of the largest suppliers of bottle-grade recycled plastic containers in North America, but it’s also enabled the company to become more sustainable. By diverting plastic from landfills, the recycling facility helps save energy and natural resources, as well as substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2019, the GRC processed 41.1 million lb of post-consumer material, all of which Graham uses to manufacture automotive and homecare products for Graham’s customers. The GRC creates about 167,000 lb of finished product a day.
The process at the GRC starts with recycled material being brought to the plant. The bales are run through a sorting line to check for quality and any contamination, like PET bottles, tin cans, corrugate and more. The bottles are then washed and ground down before entering a float tank, which helps ensure only HDPE is captured since it floats to the top. The rHDPE grind is processed and finalized before eventually getting packaged into boxes or bulk trucks and shipped to Graham plants all over the country that manufacture HDPE bottles.
The plant is also extremely important to Graham’s mission to create a circular economy. Today, Graham is focused on expanding its sustainability efforts. Over the past 24 months, the company began securing ocean-bound plastics to be recycled at the GRC. It is also working to attain certification from the Association of Plastic Recyclers to validate and trace the origins of material it collects for recycling.
Today, more than ever, granulation is an important step in the total production process.
Almost all extrusion processes pass melt through wire-mesh screens on the way to the die to provide filtering and improved mixing.
Most extrusion operations generate scrap, and in the case of sheet for thermoforming it can exceed 70% of total output.