2019 Sustainability Report

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

REDUCING OUR FOOTPRINT
Water

Optimizing the use and improving the quality of water in our operations.

United Nations Sustainable Development GoalsClean water and sanitation

Why Water Matters

103-1
Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

103-2
Explain management approach components

103-3
Evaluate management approach

GRI 303: 103-1, 103-2, 103-3; GRI 306: 103-1, 103-2, 103-3, 306-1

As global concerns over water scarcity rise, Greif is at risk of higher water supply costs and potential shortages in water-stressed regions. Ensuring water consumption is responsibly managed and water is properly treated and returned to its sources helps to alleviate potential water supply shortages, supports the environmental health in the communities in which we operate while also leading to operational efficiencies, lowering operating costs and minimizing regulatory risk.

 

Governance

78.4%

Reduction in Biochemical Oxygen Demand

Our efforts in water quality have allowed us to already meet our 10% reduction by 2025 goal.

Greif’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Policy provides global guidelines for water conservation to improve water efficiencies in existing operations and incorporate water management in planning for future projects and technology investments. Each Greif facility is expected to manage water locally in accordance with our EHS policy with supervision and support from Greif’s EHS team regarding compliance obligations and best practices for water use, treatment, and recycling. Local management teams are incentivized to improve water efficiencies and quality, reduce water withdrawal to minimize impact to local sources, maintain regulatory compliance and reduce costs related to water.

Historically, 90 percent of Greif’s water use and impact has been from our two Paper Packaging and Services (PPS) containerboard mills in Riverville, Virginia, and Massillon, Ohio. In February 2019, Greif completed the acquisition of Caraustar Industries, adding 106 additional PPS facilities to our operations, including 12 additional paper mills. Collectively, our mills still account for at least 95 percent of the water use and impact in our organization.

Greif’s Riverville, Virginia, Tama, Iowa, and Baltimore, Ohio mills are equipped with on-site water treatment facilities and return water directly to local sources. Our Massillion, Ohio mill has an on-site water facility that returns treated water to a municipal water treatment plant. Our remaining mills return water to municipal treatment facilities before it is returned to local sources. Beginning in 2020, our Baltimore, Ohio mill will be diverting direct discharge wastewater to the local municipal treatment plant. Taking this step will reduce our overall withdrawal by 400,000 gallons a day. Regardless of where water is treated, we continually look for opportunities to reuse water in our operations before it is treated and returned to sources, reducing our overall water needs.

While Greif’s water impact is predominately in our PPS operations, we do take steps to curb water use across all of our operations, particularly in water-stressed regions in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. In these facilities, and across all of our operations, we reduce water pressure where it is higher than needed, replace leaky valves, and collect and use rainwater when possible. Our Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services (RIPS) facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia implemented many such measures in an effort to reduce and recycle their wastewater, ultimately resulting in a 32 percent reduction in waste to landfill from their facility. Please see our Waste page for more information on their achievement.

In 2020, we will continue our efforts to recycle and reuse water throughout our PPS operations and spread best practices regarding water consumption.

Goals & Progress

In 2017, Greif announced a 2020 goal of 10 percent reduction in kilograms of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) per metric ton of production, from a 2014 baseline of 1.47, in our PPS operations. Our 2017 materiality process led to the creation of new 2025 goals and restating our BOD goal as a 2025 goal.

In 2018, we reevaluated our historical water use and BOD data to confirm our baseline and assumptions to support continual improvement related to water. Through this process, we restated our 2014 BOD baseline to 1.40.

2025 Goal: Reduce BOD discharged in kilograms by 10 percent per metric ton of combined production from the Riverville and Massillon mills using the 2014 restated baseline by the end of fiscal year 2025.

Progress: Since 2014, we have reduced BOD per metric ton of production by 78.4 percent. Our significant progress against our BOD goal was enabled by the installation of a wastewater treatment facility at our Massillon mill. Completed in July 2017, the project led to modest improvements in 2017 and far surpassed expectations in 2018. These benefits continued to be realized in 2019.

In 2020, we will continue to track our progress in reducing BOD while controlling specific water use in our mills and reevaluate our goals to include both our legacy Greif mills and Caraustar mills that are now part of our organization.

Performance Data

303-1
Water withdrawal by source

306-1
Water discharge by quality and destination

306-5
Water bodies affected by water discharges and/or runoff

GRI
303-1
306-1
306-5
WATER*

 

FY 2015

FY 2016

FY 2017

FY 2018 

FY 2019

Water Withdrawal (Thousands of cubic meters)*

8,365.4

8,420.2

9,666.3

9,360.8 

13,864.4

Surface Water

 -

 -

9,242.7

8,630.0 

10,266.8

Ground Water

 -

 -

423.6

730.7 

3,597.6

Rainwater

 -

 -

 -

 -

-

Wastewater

 -

-

-

 -

-

Municipal Water†

 -

 -

 -

 -

-

Wastewater Discharge (Thousands of cubic meters)**

8,255.1

7,961.4

8,983.2

9,316.2 

11,853.5

James River**

 -

 -

8,788.8

8,907.1 

7,949.5

City of Massillon^

 -

 -

191.6

407.1 

424.0

 

Tuscarawas River^

 -

 -

2.8

2.0 

2.5

Sweetwater Creek^

 

 

 

 

0.0

Cobb County WWTP^

 

 

 

 

844.9

Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewerage District^^

 

 

 

 

37.6

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District^^

 

 

 

 

349.0

Los Angeles County Sanitation District WWTF^^

 

 

 

 

196.8

Three Mile Creek^

 

 

 

 

0.0

Mobile Wright Smith WWTP^

 

 

 

 

337.2

Village of Baltimore WWTF**

 

 

 

 

0.0

West Branch Paw Paw Creek**

 

 

 

 

146.7

San Jose-Santa Clara Regional WWTP^^

 

 

 

 

288.1

Tacoma Central WWTP^^

 

 

 

 

6.9

City of Fitchburg WWTP^

 

 

 

 

322.6

Iowa River**

 

 

 

 

291.8

Cherry Lake**

 

 

 

 

597.8

Iowa Tributary**

 

 

 

 

58.0

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (Thousands of kg)

2,080.4

1,050.4

890.4

204.2

3508.3

Total Suspended Solids (kg)

489,334

546,857

465,098

349,003

875,790.8

Phosphorus (kg)

5,517

5,728

4,991

6,617 

4,708.0

Production (MT)

637,000

665,000

690,000

713,336 

1,729,062

Consumption Rate (m3/MT)

13.1

12.7

14.0

13.1 

8.02

Notes:
  1. 2015 to 2018 data is from Greif’s two paper mills, one of which is located in Riverville, Virginia, and the other in Massillon, Ohio. Historically, these two paper mills accounted for more than 90% of Greif’s global water footprint. They draw from the James River and onsite water wells, respectively. 2019 data includes 12 former Caraustar mills that were acquired and integrated in 2019. All 2019 data is full year data. Quality of wastewater discharged from our mills meets permit requirements. No discharged water was used by another organization. WWPT = Wastewater Treatment Plant.
*Evaporative losses estimated
**Treated with primary clarification, secondary clarification and aeration before direct discharge
^ Treated with wastewater pre-treatment including soluble BOD removal
^^ Treated with wastewater pre-treatment with solids only.
† Greif does not currently track withdrawal of municipal water.
Highlight Stories
Highlight Stories

Efficiency in Water Treatment at our Los Angeles Mill

Greif’s Los Angeles mill is located in a water-stressed area. Water used in the mill is drawn from a regional water aquifer that supplies both industrial and residential sources and recollects and treats water for redistribution. Because water supplied by the aquifer must serve multiple purposes, including use by community members, returning clean water back to the supplier is critically important. Wastewater generated in our Los Angeles mill is first treated through a HydroFloat to be cleansed, then is run through a tertiary treatment step to treat the water even further. As a result of our processes, wastewater generated from our mill is clean enough to reintroduce into a fresh water tank. Currently, our processes reintroduce or offset 10 percent of incoming water; it is our intention to continue to save water so that we are not a contributor – in any capacity – to water shortages in our community.
DEFINITION