2018 Sustainability Report

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

Stakeholder Engagement & Materiality

Changes in reporting


We published our first sustainability report in 2009. While Greif has experienced incredible success these past 11 years, we continue to evolve and refine the way we approach sustainability. In 2018, we enhanced the sustainability programs that make our company efficient. We created new partnerships, enhanced the management of our material topics, engaged colleagues on sustainability and continued to build a competitive advantage. The progress we made in 2018 builds on the materiality assessment we conducted last year. Our 2018 GRI Core report showcases our accomplishments and progress on our long-term sustainability goals.

In December 2018, Greif announced the acquisition of Caraustar, a leading vertically-integrated paperboard manufacturer in North America. Our 2018 report focuses exclusively on Greif, with the expectation to integrate Caraustar into our operations and subsequent sustainability reports in 2019.

Value Chain

Supply chain


Greif’s value chain consists of raw material suppliers, transportation and distribution partners, customers, end-of-life services and external stakeholders that influence our activities.

Stakeholder Engagement Process

List of stakeholder groups

Identifying and selecting stakeholders

Approach to stakeholder engagement


We reviewed our value chain to identify the stakeholders that can speak to our impacts, risks and opportunities and engaged them to better understand their expectations of us. We engaged internal cross-functional leadership, Greif’s Board of Directors, investors, customers, community patterns, suppliers, community members and sustainable experts through surveys and interviews. We reviewed stakeholders’ publicly available information (e.g., peer sustainability reports, ESG analyst reports, industry association websites, peer benchmarking) to supplement direct engagement. We worked with Greif leadership to validate our findings and decide the topics most material to our business.

Material Topics

Key topics and concerns raised

Defining report content and topic Boundaries

List of material topics


We began with 32 environmental, social, product, economic and governance topics and narrowed the list down to 16 topics during the stakeholder engagement process. These 16 topics represent the highest priority indicators to our stakeholders. We anticipate refreshing our materiality assessment in 3-4 years to account for our stakeholder’s new priorities and expectations.

Material Topic Boundary Stakeholders Engaged & Types of Stakeholder Engagement
    Greif’s Board of Directors & Leaders Customers Investors Society/Community Environment
  Daily interactions, impact mapping interviews, materiality assessment survey Daily interactions, surveys, materiality assessment interviews Daily interactions, materiality assessment interviews Community engagement (face-to-face meetings, interviews, survey) Greif LCA, interviews with sustainability experts (e.g., WBCSD)
Delivering Superior Customer Experience
Product Quality
Producing products that maintain high performance and value through superior design and manufacturing across facilities, driving customer satisfaction and averting throw-away dynamics.
All internal operations; during use      
Customer Service Excellence
Creating effective policies, systems, best practices and incentives that drive the highest level of customer service; taking into account customer feedback regularly and having systems in place to address their needs; outperforming competitors.
All internal operations; all customers    
Reducing Our Footprint
Environmental Management Systems
Utilizing a comprehensive environmental management system with dedicated environmental management resources (i.e. personnel, budget, etc.), an environmental policy, certifications (e.g., ISO 14001) and compliance.
All internal operations  
Climate Strategy, Energy & Emissions
Creating a climate strategy to address risks, opportunities and impacts such as changes in energy and emissions regulation (carbon taxes, efficiency regulations, etc.), increasing operational costs, renewable energy, natural disaster preparedness and social impacts; managing and reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
All internal operations
Reducing water use, particularly in facilities with significant water use and water stressed regions; returning wastewater to a safe state.
PPS operations  
Waste & Effluents
Managing and reducing waste (hazardous and non-hazardous) in Greif’s operations; reducing waste to landfill; reclaiming waste and byproducts for beneficial reuse.
All internal operations  
Supply Chain Management
Screening, educating and auditing suppliers’ environmental practices; creating and enforcing environmental and social supply chain policies/standards.
All internal operations; all suppliers; trucking partners
Addressing Risk
Ethics & Compliance
Maintaining governance structures, practices and training that promotes ethical behavior and steering clear of anti-competitive behaviors (bribery, corruption, etc.).
All internal operations; all suppliers    
Risk Management & Business Continuity
Regularly conducting risk assessments that include environmental, social and governance factors: determining high-risk supplies (only one supplier), high risk/politically unstable regions (e.g., weather impacts in Houston) and potential labor-related work stoppages; putting plans in place to ensure uninterrupted supply, operations and delivery to customers (e.g., qualifying backup suppliers).
All internal operations; all suppliers    
Adopting a proactive approach to information security—including personal data and intellectual property—taking into account not only Greif’s internal level of protection, but also the security of the entities with whom Greif is connected (suppliers, employees, customers, etc.); taking necessary measures to ensure that Greif’s customers’ customers receive what they order versus counterfeit products.
All internal operations      
Valuing Our People
Talent Attraction, Development & Retention
Attracting and retaining qualified and talented employees, managers and executives. Cultivating a culture of growth and development through education, training, mentorship, performance reviews, coaching, etc.
All internal operations    
Community Health & Safety
Promoting and practicing the highest standards of workplace health, safety and well-being through management systems, targets, policies, programs, trainings, certifications, audits and compliance.
All internal operations; Community  
Human Rights & Fair Labor Practices
Ensuring compliance with laws, standards and internal policies on topics within the realm of human rights and fair labor practices such as child labor, forced labor, fair remuneration, human trafficking, working conditions, freedom of association, collective bargaining, discrimination and conflict-free minerals.
All internal operations; all suppliers  
Advancing Circular Economy
Carefully considering raw material inputs and alternative and recycled materials (e.g., post-consumer resins, water-based paints and linings, recycled wood pallets) based on environmental and social impacts; reducing the amount of materials used in Greif’s products; taking customers’ specific needs and Greif’s expertise and using that to drive innovative, customized solutions to drive business growth.
All internal operations; suppliers; customers  
End of Life Reconditioning, Reuse, & Recycling
Advancing the circular economy within the packaging industry by taking actions that enable reconditioning, reuse and recycling of products at end of life, including avoiding mixtures of plastics and developing designs that enable recycling (e.g. fully recyclable fibre drums); educating and incentivizing customers to return/recycle Greif’s packaging materials; creating policies, processes, targets and tools to support these efforts.
Reconditioning operations; reconditioning partners; customers
Financial Performance & Profitable Growth
Financial Performance & Profitable Growth
Maintaining a sustainable business model by implementing integrated economic practices that allow Greif to provide economic value to its stakeholders (e.g. employees, suppliers, and shareholders) and invest in long-term growth.
All internal operations    


The stakeholder engagement and materiality assessment process validated many topics that have historically been important to Greif and our stakeholders. Our engagement yielded topic owners within Greif and goals for 2025. We continue to strengthen our approach to managing and addressing the opportunities available to our company. Throughout this report you will learn about our goals, management approach and performance for our material topics.


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Employees in 2018

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Years of Experience

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