Honest Tea is First to Adopt Graham Packaging’s New Lightweight Hot-Fill PET Escape Bottle

YORK, Pa., May 7 – Graham Packaging Company, L.P., has introduced the new lightweight champion – the lightest-weight bottle in the smooth-walled, hot-fill category, the perfect match for teas, juices, and isotonic drinks. The new bottle is called the Escape™ and represents a giant step forward in invertible-base technology.

Honest Tea, the nation’s top-selling organic bottled tea company, 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, Inc., said. “Our packaging has always been our biggest challenge in that regard. This is the single largest improvement we’ve ever taken in terms of reducing our environmental impact.”

Paul Kelley, senior engineering manager for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) research and development at Graham Packaging, said, “We’re taking about 20 percent 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 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 major 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.”

Bowman Apple Products in Mt. Jackson, Virginia, and J. Lieb Foods, Inc., in Forest Grove, Oregon, are the first two locations to install Graham’s CMA. Jim Lieb, president and chief executive officer of J. Lieb Foods, said adding the CMA to the filling line was as simple as adding another conveyor. “It had no negative impact,” he said.

“We anticipate several other locations will install CMAs this year,” Leiden said. “We are getting a big push by our customers to continue our lightweighting and sustainability efforts, and Escape™ plays a big part in our whole Sustainer™ family. We now have the G-Lite™ series for those who use traditional vacuum panels and Escape™ for those who want smooth walls.”

Graham Packaging, based in York, Pennsylvania, is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture, and sale of technology-based, customized blow-molded plastic containers for the branded food and beverage, household, personal care/specialty, and automotive lubricants product categories. The company has an extensive blue-chip customer base that includes many of the world’s largest branded consumer products companies. It produces more than 20 billion container units annually at 82 plants in North America, Europe, and South America, and had sales of $2.58 billion in 2008.

Graham Packaging is a leading U.S. supplier of plastic containers for hot-fill juice and juice drinks, sports drinks, drinkable yogurt and smoothies, nutritional supplements, wide-mouth food, dressings, condiments, and beers; the leading global supplier of plastic containers for yogurt drinks; a leading supplier of plastic containers for liquid fabric care products, dish care products, and hard-surface cleaners; the leading supplier in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil of one-quart/one-liter plastic motor oil containers; and a leading supplier of bottles for personal care products.

The Blackstone Group of New York is the majority owner of Graham Packaging.

Honest Tea is the nation’s top-selling organic bottled tea company with a mission to make great-tasting, truly healthy organic beverages sweetened with less sugar and fewer calories than most bottled beverages. Honest Tea’s product lines include: Honest Tea ready-to-drink bottled teas in glass and PET No. 1 bottles, Honest Ade organic thirst quenchers and Honest Kids drink pouches. All varieties are USDA-certified organic and many teas are Fair Trade Certified™.

Honest Tea was founded in Bethesda, Maryland in 1998. The company has been continuously recognized for its impressive growth and mission-driven business practices. Honest Tea has sustained an annual compound growth rate of 66 percent. In addition to being named one of The Better World Shopping Guide’s “10 best companies on the planet based on their overall social and environmental record,” Honest Tea recently received Greenopia.com’s coveted 4-Leaf Rating as “the greenest beverage company.” For more information, visit: www.honesttea.com.