2019 Sustainability Report

arrow blueCommitted to using financial, natural and human resources wisely without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs

Executive Letter

Statement from senior decision-maker


Peter G. Watson

Ole G. Rosgaard

At Greif, we are focused on developing solutions to safely package and protect our customers’ products in pursuit of our vision: In industrial packaging, be the best performing customer service company in the world.

While our 2019 Sustainability Report discusses the progress Greif has made in our sustainability programs in 2019, as we publish this report, our business is responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As an essential business and critical supplier around the globe, we formed global and regional task forces to monitor the situation in real time and take appropriate action as quickly as possible to protect the health and safety of our colleagues, maintain the service levels our customers have come to expect of us and protect business continuity. Please visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Customer Update page for current information on our response efforts.  

As we respond to this global crisis, our long-term sustainability strategies remain consistent. Whether it is through innovating our own products, collaborating with our customers to reduce the impact of their packaging or expanding our end-of-life solutions and capabilities, 2019 saw great advancements towards implementing the circular economy principles that are core to our sustainability – and business – strategy.

Our Greif Green Tool continues to drive collaboration, and reduce environmental impact, with our customers by enabling lowest impact packaging decisions. We have continued our work with customers and leading food safety experts to further evolve our industry leading Food Safety Initiative. These partnerships have led to revolutionary manufacturing processes and product launches, and are helping to set new standards for product quality across our business.

In 2019 we completed our acquisition of Caraustar, greatly expanding our Paper Packaging & Services business segment and the end-of-life services we can provide. With our expanded footprint, we are now proud to be a net positive paper recycler, recovering and recycling more waste paper than we produce. We are also growing the EarthMinded reconditioning network in our Rigid Industrial Packaging business and introducing industry-leading services to make them easier and more efficient for our customers to use.

Our commitment to circular economy is just one of our sustainability strategies that supports our three strategic priorities of engaged teams, differentiated customer service and enhanced performance. Our efforts to better engage our colleagues resulted in increased participation in our engagement survey, as well as increased engagement scores. Our dedication to instilling a culture of safety in the organization is unwavering, with 53 percent of our manufacturing sites recording zero accidents in 2019.

In 2019 we achieved our highest Net Promotor Score and Customer Service Index, further illustrating the direct link between customer service excellence and profitable growth.

We delivered a step change in our financial results, fueled by the acquisition and ongoing integration of Caraustar, with significant improvements in EBITDA, earnings per share and Free Cash Flow.

Our sustainability initiatives continue to receive external recognition. EcoVadis awarded Greif the ‘Gold Recognition Level’ in sustainability performance for the second year in a row, placing us in the top four percent of companies they evaluate. We once again received an A- rating from CDP for our 2019 Climate Change response, our second consecutive year achieving this score. We also received an A for Supplier Engagement, placing Greif in the top three percent of companies responding to CDP, for our actions and strategies to reduce emissions and manage climate risks in our supply chain.

We are proud of our climate-related achievements, but recognize the urgency to address climate change is only increasing for our organization and for our planet. To further understand and address our climate impacts and implement recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), we have taken the first steps in conducting a scenario analysis and will be establishing a new 2030 climate goal. We greatly look forward to announcing our new goals in 2020. 

We are proud to share our 2019 progress in our 11th annual sustainability report. Our report, prepared in full accordance with the GRI Standards Core guidelines, serves as our annual Communication on Progress to the United Nations Global Compact and is our first reporting to SASB standards.

Greif is better positioned than ever to create value for our colleagues, the communities where we operate and live, our customers and our shareholders. As we continue to embed sustainability into the fabric of our organization, we are optimistic and excited about our future.

Best Regards,

Peter G. Watson
President and Chief Executive Officer

Ole G. Rosgaard
Senior Vice President, Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services                              and Global Sustainability


Medical Case Rate

Down 57 percent since 2007.


Recognition from EcoVadis

Received for our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, placing us in the top four percent of all assessed suppliers.


Average Customer Satisfaction Index Score

Our highest scores ever, demonstrating our commitment to serving our customers better.