2020 Sustainability Report

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

ADVANCING CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Cradle to Cradle Manufacturing, Reconditioning & Recycling

Committed to a circular economy that diverts used packaging from landfills, preserves resources and reduces use of virgin materials.

United Nations Sustainable Development GoalsDecent work and economic growthindustry, innovation and infrastructureResponsible consumption and productionClimate action

Why Cradle to Cradle Manufacturing, Reconditioning, Reuse & Recycling Matters

103-1
Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

103-2
Explain management approach components

103-3
Evaluate management approach

307-1
Non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations

Cradle to Cradle Manufacturing, Reconditioning, Reuse & Recycling 2019: 103-1, 103-2, 103-3; 307-1

Greif actively manages the life cycle of industrial packaging through manufacturing, reconditioning, reuse and recycling to advance circular economy principles. We work with our customers, and even their customers, to produce new packages and products that build economic, environmental and social capital. Our Circular Economy management through manufacturing, reconditioning, reuse and recycling solutions helps divert waste from landfills while strengthening relationships within our supply chain. As the demand for sustainable solutions increases, our collaborative efforts with our suppliers and our customers enable us all to reach our collective sustainability goals.

Governance

We provide life cycle services through our EarthMinded Life Cycle Services (LCS) program, which leverages a network of Greif owned, joint-venture owned and other third-party owned and operated facilities in EMEA and North America, including Container Life Cycle Management LLC (CLCM), Centurion, Delta, LAF and Tholu. Participant reconditioners in the network collect used, empty, plastic and steel drums and Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs). Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs) are recollected in EMEA through our wholly owned subsidiary, Rebu. All Earthminded LCS and CLCM operations are overseen by a General Manager who is responsible for implementing Greif’s policies, procedures, training and business objectives throughout the network and operate on many of Greif’s IT systems, including our Compliance Management System (please see the Environmental Management Systems section of our report for additional information).

Containers that are collected throughout our network are reconditioned so they are suitable for reuse and then reintroduced into trade. The reconditioned containers reduce the demand for new containers and demand for virgin raw materials, while decreasing the number of containers that go to landfill. If a container cannot be reconditioned, the materials are recycled for use into other products. Many of Greif’s largest customers use our LCS network to recondition their containers. Customers who use the network can access real-time reports through the Greif Green Tool, which enables customers to quantify performance by tracking key indicators like carbon impact and weight of reused and recycled materials. Across Global Industrial Packaging, we reconditioned, remanufactured, or recycled more than 4.5 million containers and our Paper & Packaging Services (PPS) business managed over 3.4 million metric tons of recycled paper in 2020.

Greif Recycling Operations

Paper Packaging & Services

71,149

Metric Tons of Virgin Materials Saved

Our reconditioning and reuse operations helped us remove over 70,000 metric tons of virgin steel, high-density polyethylene and wood from our supply chain in 2020.

In addition to our reconditioning operations, Greif operates 18 recycling facilities in our Paper Packaging & Services (PPS) business. Through these facilities, we offer complete outsourcing solutions for plastics, pulp and paper fiber procurement, transportation and administration and provide complete paper fiber audit and management solutions. 98 percent of the products we handle, by volume, are paper fiber. Our paper fiber recycling operations collect waste paper for use in our own containerboard mills and for sale to other containerboard and recycled paper product manufacturers. Because of our integrated capabilities, Greif holds a central position in the paper recycling industry and operates as a net positive recycler. Approximately 50 percent of the fiber we collect is used in our own operations to manufacture paper products for use in consumer and industrial settings. The remaining 50 percent of the fiber we collect is sold to external mills and other manufacturing operations for use in the production of new paperboard, molded fiber packaging and other products. Over 90 percent of the fiber we use in our paper manufacturing is from purely recycled inputs.

We are proud to be able to offer services that enable the re-use of fiber. Recovered fiber is an input to many essential goods but has suffered from reductions in supply through the economic closures caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, recovered fiber value was at historical lows with the cost of recovery greater than the fiber value for many recyclers. Today the critical importance of expanding access to recycling is clear, particularly as more commerce takes place at the home instead of in stores. Through our sales force and participation in various industry groups, we are doing our part to educate the market on the dynamics of the changing industry to ensure this remains a viable business with a robust supply chain for all the essential goods that depend on recovered fiber inputs.

 

Global Industrial Packaging

In our Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) business, we look for reuse and recycling opportunities wherever possible. All our plastic products globally are 100 percent recyclable and 100 percent of our internal regrind plastic, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of our drums and IBCs, is reincorporated into our products. Our steel products are made from a minimum of 15 percent recycled steel globally and a minimum of 33 percent recycled steel in North America. We recycle 90 percent of our internal scrap used to produce our flexible products and the balance is sold to recycling companies. There is approximately seven percent recycled plastics (internal scrap) in our FPS plastics products.

Cradle to cradle and the use of recycled products are just two components of our circular economy strategy that span across our operations and value chain. As part of that strategy, we are working to drive circular economy principles in five key areas:

  • Reducing raw material use
  • Waste reduction and reducing natural resource use
  • Innovation and increasing recyclability, and use of recycled materials, in our products
  • Fiber-based alternatives to single-use plastics
  • Life cycle services

Please see the Supply Chain Management, Waste and Innovation pages of our report for more information about how our circular economy strategy spans our entire business.

In 2020, EarthMinded LCS introduced new terms for containers acceptable for reconditioning including requirements for containers that previously contained substances that can emit flammable gasses when in contact with water, requirements for all packaging to be fully closed upon acceptance, and stricter requirements for what constitutes an empty container. Collectively, these terms help us ensure our operations remain in compliance with relevant regulations and provide for better health and safety of our colleagues and those in the communities in which we operate. In 2020, Greif expanded its IBC, drum and jerrycan recollection capabilities in Italy by establishing a joint venture with LAF s.r.l., a leader in reconditioning services. In addition to reconditioning, LAF s.r.l. transforms HDPE components into raw secondary materials that are used in industry, building, furniture, and flooring.

In 2021, we will continue to expand our reconditioning services. In Spain, we will establish new joint ventures that will allow us to recondition more drums and IBCs. In our PPS business, we place greater emphasis on our fiber business to identify solutions that will be valuable to our customers and work to bring them to life.

* EarthMinded LCS is comprised of Greif, Inc. subsidiary EarthMinded Europe (formerly “pack2pack”) with network sites and alliance participants across Europe, and Container Life Cycle Management LLC in North America, a joint venture composed of Greif and the former owners of Drumco of Arkansas, Drumco of Tennessee and Mid-America Steel Drum Co., Inc. The EarthMinded LCS network in North America also includes West Texas Drum Company covering the Gulf Coast, Chambers Drum Company, Inc. covering the southeast United States, and Kearny Steel Container covering the northeast United States.

Performance

 

EARTHMINDED LIFE CYCLE SERVICES - ESTIMATED DRUMS AND IBCS RECONDITIONED*

 

FY 2016 

FY 2017

Fy 2018
FY 2019
FY 2020

Recycled

1,045,093

904,883

849,498

831,576

968,296 

Steel Drums

689,513

534,369

571,355

509,884

562,980 

Poly Drums

277,672

212,272

161,447

243,186

358,280 

IBCs

77,908

158,242

116,696

78,506

47,036 

Reconditioned

3,808,242

3,218,885

3,258,848

3,533,358

3,276,259 

Steel Drums

3,072,348

2,565,052

2,713,025

2,699,393

2,483,485 

Poly Drums

375,307

321,188

244,497

194,011

178,627 

IBCs

360,587

332,645

301,326

639,954

614,147 

Total Collected

4,853,335 

4,136,828

4,105,936

4,348,706

4,164,585 

Steel Drums

3,761,861

3,099,633

3,284,380

3,193,049

2,971,549 

Poly Drums

652,979

535,460

405,944

437,197

536,281 

IBCs

438,495

501,735

415,612

718,460

656,755 

Virgin Materials Saved by Reconditioning and Reuse (Metric Tons)**

71,573

63,111

63,587

76,415

71,149 

Steel

65,743

56,200

57,664

66,860

62,016 

High-Density Polyethylene

5,830

5,150

4,243

5,897

5,553 

Wood

 

1,761

1,680

3,659

3,580 

Virgin Materials Saved by Recycling (Metric Tons)***

17,402

18,755

16,644

14,117

14,358 

Steel

13,288

13,463

12,697

10,273

10,215 

High-Density Polyethylene

3,817

4,580

3,385

3,402

3,871 

Wood

297

712

562

442

2720 
  1. Virgin Materials Saved by Reconditioning and Reuse data has been restated to standardize units across regions
*Estimated Drums and Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) Recycled and Reconditioned (North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa) 
**Estimates based on the quantity of reconditioned packaging and average packaging specifications (North America and Europe)
***Estimates based on the quantity of recycled packaging and average packaging specifications (North America and Europe)

 

REBU – ESTIMATED Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs) RECONDITIONED Europe, Middle East and Africa 

 

FY 2016

FY 2017

Fy 2018

FY 2019

FY 2020

 Total FIBCs Collected -  -

316,324

275,732

242,000

Reconditioned

 -

 -

224,418

179,912

167,000

Recycled

 -

 -

91,906

95,820

75,000

Total Virgin Polyethylene Saved (Metric Tons)

   

727.6

634.2
556.6
Virgin Polyethylene Saved by Reconditioning and Reuse (Metric Tons)*

 -

 -

516.2

413.8

384.1

Virgin Polyethylene Saved by Recycling (Metric Tons)**

 -

 -

211.4

220.4

172.5

*Estimates based on the quantity of reconditioned packaging and average packaging specifications (Europe)
**Estimates based on the quantity of recycled packaging and average packaging specifications (Europe)
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Expanding Cradle to Cradle Services with Investments and Joint Ventures

In 2020, Greif made investments and established multiple joint ventures in order to expand the scale and capabilities of the reuse, recycling and reconditioning services we provide. In April, Greif acquired a minority stake in Centurion Container LLC, expanding our intermediate bulk container (IBC) reconditioning network in North America. In August, Greif established a joint venture with Delta Plastics, the leading independent supplier of reconditioned IBCs in the United Kingdom. Finally, in December, Greif acquired a minority stake in LAF s.r.l., expanding IBC reconditioning services for our Italy-based customers. We look forward to working with our partners to continue to reduce our environmental impact through cradle to cradle solutions.

DEFINITION