Graham Packaging Co., Lancaster, Pa., said it was identified by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) as an innovator of reusable packaging — winning the Innovation in Recovery award. Specifically, the SPC recognizes Graham Packaging’s REFPET returnable, refillable PET containers as a leading sustainability solution. The packaging results in 47% longer reuse cycles than the company’s previous generations of REFPET bottles.

Graham Packaging said its REFPET containers have been used to package beverages for large well-known brands for over 30 years, but a recent creative upgrade solved a persistent challenge that faces most reusable packaging. When a bottle is reused, significant wear and scuffing can occur, which reduces the number of times the bottle can be reused before its aesthetic properties become unacceptable.

To combat this problem, Graham Packaging said it added a bubble texture to its REFPET Generation III bottles. This texture increased the containers’ average number of reuse cycles from 17 to 25. The SPC recognized this effort by awarding Graham Packaging with a 2020 Innovator Award for Innovation in Recovery. SPC also noted that rather than avoiding the problem, the Graham Packaging team embraced the challenge to create a solution that both mitigated a loss and enhanced the visual appearance of the container.

“For us, sustainability is a part of everything we do, and innovation is core to who we are,” said Tracee Auld, chief sustainability officer at Graham Packaging. “To be recognized by a body such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition says a lot about where we are already and where we need to continue to focus our efforts to deliver innovative, sustainable products.”