2018 Sustainability Report
Committed to using financial, natural and human resources wisely without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs
Working to divert used packaging from landfills and reduce the use of virgin materials.
Greif actively manages end-of-life 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 end-of-life reconditioning, reuse and recycling solutions help divert waste to landfill while strengthening relationships within our supply chain. As the demand for sustainable solutions increases, our collaborative efforts with our suppliers and our customers, enables us all to reach our collective sustainability goals.
We provide end-of-life services through a program called EarthMinded Life Cycle Services (LCS), which leverages a network of Greif joint-venture owned and other third-party owned and operated facilities in EMEA and North America. Participant reconditioners in the network collect used, empty, plastic, steel and IBC containers. FIBC containers are recollected in EMEA through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Rebu. The collected containers 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. In 2018, the EarthMinded LCS network reconditioned close to 3.3 million containers and recycled another 849,498 containers.
Many of Greif’s largest customers use the EarthMinded LCS network to recondition their containers. Customers who use the network can access real-time reports through EcoTrack and the Greif Green Tool, which enables customers to quantify performance by tracking key indicators like carbon impact and weight of reused and recycled materials.
Globally, we are receiving increasing interest in reconditioning services. We are continually evaluating opportunities within this space to serve our customers and educate our customer base on the opportunities available to them. Greif is continually evaluating partners who can both manage collection and ensure Greif’s safety standards so we can support our customers’ goals in an effort to better offer a truly global reconditioning service. We are building the infrastructure to respond to demand, particularly as the global market continues to evolve to meet consumer expectations for sustainable products and operations.
Our reconditioning and reuse operations helped us remove over 60,000 metric tons of virgin steel, high-density polyethylene and wood from our supply chain in 2018.
As our services expand, we will continue to be responsive to the needs and concerns of the communities in which we operate, as we have been in the community of St. Francis. Since 2017, one of the Greif joint-venture’s, Container Life Cycle Management (CLCM) has been actively addressing the concerns of the St. Francis community and applicable regulators related to odor and alleged health and safety violations (many of which CLCM disputes) at a reconditioning facility operating under the trade name “Mid America Steel Drum.” Among the steps taken to address potential issues, CLCM created a hotline for community members to voice their concerns, consulted emissions experts and control equipment leaders to develop solutions, and provided tours to elected officials, community members and regulators. The facility has also made operational changes to address wastewater discharge concerns, limit the intake and processing frequency of certain drums related to the odor issue and raise the height of the plant’s discharge stack.
In 2018, CLCM installed a regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) at the St. Francis facility intended to reduce odors emanating from the site’s operations. Thermal oxidation is recognized as the most effective way to destroy odor-causing compounds and is commonly used throughout the United States for a wide variety of processes. CLCM initiated the use of the RTO in February 2019. CLCM is one of the first industrial packaging reconditioners to adopt this technology. CLCM is continuing to engage with local officials to endeavor to maintain positive relations with the community and continue to identify areas for improvement. For more information on CLCM’s relationship and commitments to the St. Francis community, please visit CLCMWI.com.
In 2019, we will continue to engage customers on packaging innovation and partner to developed new reconditioning solutions. Greif will develop the appropriate tools to educate and encourage our customers to ensure empty packaging is disposed of in a sustainable fashion. This includes engaging customers at conferences and other speaking events.
Our end-of-life efforts support our 2025 supply chain, waste and innovation goals.