Honest Tea first to adopt Graham Packaging’s hot-fill PET Escape bottle

New lightweight PET technology

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Graham Packaging Company has introduced new lightweight the lightest weight bottle in the smooth-walled, hot-fill category which the company claims is a good match for teas, juices, and isotonic drinks. The new bottle is called the Escape and represents a step forward in invertible-base technology.
Honest Tea based in Bethesda, Maryland, is the first customer to adopt the Escape bottle. “As a company, we have a very high commitment to minimizing our environmental footprint,” Seth Goldman, president and TeaEO of Honest Tea, said. “Our packaging has always been our biggest challenge in that regard. This is the single largest improvement we have ever taken in terms of reducing our environmental impact.”

Paul Kelley, senior engineering manager for PET research and development at Graham Packaging, said, “We’re taking about 20% of the weight out of the container.” The Escape is 6.5 grams lighter than the PET bottle Honest Tea was previously using. “It takes fewer resources to make the bottle and fewer resources to transport the bottle,” Kelley said. The Escape is also claimed to be fully recyclable.

Several other customers are finalizing designs for their versions of the Escape. Each design will be proprietary to the specific customer. While the bottle initially will be used for teas, juices, and isotonic drinks, it is also suitable for jellies, jams, and salsas.

After the bottle is filled and capped, it goes through a CMA, a “continuous motion activator,” a machine that inverts the base, which takes up the vacuum in the bottle and creates a slight overpressure. “This process gives the bottle a rigid feel, like glass, but it’s lighter,” said Phillip Sheets, senior project manager for Graham Packaging.

“There’s no structural waste-no hoop rings or backing panels,” Kelley added. The patented CMA represents a technology advance over the active transverse panel (ATP) technology, which Graham Packaging introduced in 2004 to produce the first panel-free hot-fill bottle. The old inverse-base process required a complex bottle-handling system during manufacturing. The CMA eliminates that and fits into the filling line. “The CMA is inexpensive, easy to install, and doesn\’t require an operator,” said Mark Leiden, Graham Packaging’s vice president of global marketing and PET business manager. “It’s the equivalent of putting a labeling machine in a bottling line.”