2020 Sustainability Report

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

Supply Chain Management

Working with our suppliers to create shared value.

United Nations Sustainable Development GoalsGood health and well-beingQuality educationGender equalityResponsible consumption and production

Why Supply Chain Management Matters

Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

Explain management approach components

Evaluate management approach

GRI 301: 103-1, 103-2, 103-3; Supply Chain Management: 103-1, 103-2, 103-3

Greif engages suppliers to ensure our commitment to sustainability encompasses more than just our own operations. We expect our suppliers to uphold the same levels of integrity, responsibility and commitment to sustainability that we do. By actively working with our suppliers, we minimize potential environmental and social risks while creating opportunities to efficiently use materials and implement solutions that positively impact our customers.


Greif sources direct materials such as resins, paint and steel and indirect materials such as consumables, services and transportation. Greif’s Global Sourcing and Supply Chain Team (GSSC) tracks monthly improvements in material costs, working capital, deal terms and inventory as part of the Greif Business System (GBS). We outline our expectations for our suppliers in our Supplier Code of Conduct and evaluate each of our top 20 suppliers on a scorecard that considers quality, delivery, cost, value- added services, environmental impact and technical support. Sustainability criteria, such as material reduction, use of lower environmental impact materials and supplier sustainability initiatives, account for five percent of the supplier scorecard.

Greif complies with applicable laws to manage potential human rights violations in our supply chain. Due to the fact that some Greif products contain tin, we are committed to understanding the 3TG metals in our supply chain. To assess conflict risk throughout our supply chain, we validate our Conflict Minerals Policy and publish our Conflict Minerals Report annually. In accordance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, Greif takes measures to prevent and eliminate forced labor in our direct supply chain, as outlined in our Supplier Code of Conduct and Transparency in Supply Chain Disclosure.

During our Enterprise Risk Management process, we recognize supply chain as a critical risk to carefully manage as it may impact our business continuity or ability to deliver on customer commitments. We must be able to supply our colleagues and facilities with what they need to deliver customer service excellence and meet our standards of product quality. During 2020, maintaining a continuous supply chain was critically important to support business continuity through the COVID-19 pandemic. We leveraged our existing procedures, controls and processes to ensure our facilities had all the supplies they needed including personal protective equipment. Through a collaborative approach with suppliers, we minimized shortages by utilizing back up and new suppliers when needed.

Supply chain sustainability objectives are supported by our Sustainable Procurement Team, which evaluates opportunities to minimize material use and finds more sustainable raw material alternatives. The team, made up of colleagues from each region, evaluates opportunities across the globe and works to share best practices in sustainable sourcing with the Global Procurement Team. In 2018, we began replacing combustible gasoline and LPG powered forklifts with electricity-powered forklifts. The transition both supported Greif’s Renewable Forklift Policy and resulted in significant emissions savings. Through 2020, we have converted 99 percent of our forklifts in EMEA to electricity power while we reduced fleet size by 17 percent and realized a cost savings of $352,000 in 2020. In North America, we have replaced 2 percent of our fleet and saved $250,000 in 2020.

We have also made changes to impact energy and emissions use among our trucks and colleague vehicle fleet. We have transitioned 50 percent of our North American fleet to solar-powered GPS units through 2020. In EMEA, we have set stringent emission guidelines for approved colleague vehicles to promote more energy efficient and, where feasible, electric vehicles. We have transitioned 41 percent of our vehicle fleet in EMEA through this program and realized $166,000 in cost savings in 2020.

During 2020, we began an initiative to improve compressed air efficiency that will lead to significant energy use reduction in EMEA. In 2020, we also began replacing old and small copiers across our global footprint with units that are more functional. The new copiers include software that limits printing for users and will reduce paper and toner use globally. At our Delaware headquarters, the new copiers led to a nearly 3 million reduction in prints over four years. Collectively we continue to track procurement projects that have potential to provide positive sustainability impacts through GBS. In 2020, we identified 10 projects with $587,000 in savings on sustainability impact projects. 

Greif works to identify and implement chemical substitutions in our products and operations to remove and reduce hazardous waste, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Since 2015, we have focused on reducing steel coil material volume and potentially hazardous paint within our operations. We now use safer alternatives in many of our products, including our Tri-Sure Vreeland linings and our water-based acrylic paints. In fact, all our North America facilities, except in Auburndale, Florida, are using water-based paints. Five facilities in APAC are transitioning to water-based paints including our Zhuhai facility where 70 percent of their paint usage was water-based in 2020. The steps we take to reduce hazardous waste align with our Environmental Health and Safety Policy.

All new suppliers are given access to our Supplier Code of Conduct via Greif.com and expected to adhere to the principles within. Globally, our Supplier Code of Conduct is part of every purchase order and agreement that has to be signed by our suppliers. In 2020, we began sending our Supplier Code of Conduct with legacy Caraustar purchase orders. This began elevating the importance of the Supplier Code of Conduct and environmental, social and governance topics with our suppliers and during our buying decision process.

We are revising our Supplier Code of Conduct to set better expectations for our suppliers and better address environmental and social risks within our supply chain based on the key industries that we serve. We will issue an updated Supplier Code of Conduct as a formal policy and begin stronger enforcement among our suppliers, including integration into supplier audits. In 2020, we developed an internal Purchasing Policy that provides guidelines for procurement to our colleagues. The policy includes considerations for environmental and social procurement criteria including green materials, waste and supplier diversity. We also published updated Temporary Labor Policies in the United States and Canada. The Temporary Labor Policy formalizes additional requirements for temporary labor agency providers and maintains compliance with all regulatory requirements.

We continue to integrate environmental and social criteria into our supplier audits. To ensure continuous supplier improvement in areas such as colleague health and safety, we integrated language on conformance to standards and ISO certification development into our supplier audits. We benchmarked industry best practices to improve our supplier scorecards, Supplier Code of Conduct and rating procedures. We created legal training on anti-trust policies and products, which are available to all colleagues through our online training system. We are utilizing EcoVadis assessments to analyze the sustainability performance of our suppliers. We began requesting that our 40 largest suppliers complete EcoVadis assessments in 2020. Thus far, suppliers accounting for 11 percent of our supplier spend have submitted EcoVadis responses and we target assessing 25 percent of our supplier spend by the end of 2021. As part of this program, we trained our buyers on EcoVadis to understand the assessment, recognize the factors EcoVadis is rating and best utilize information from the assessments.

In 2020, we developed strategic roadmaps detailing our supply chain strategy through 2023. As part of this roadmap, we have identified sustainability project opportunities related to our major procurement work streams. Based on the outcomes of our Voice of the Customer project, we are also working to involve our GSSC team more in the execution of customer service. Involving our GSSC team allows us to take a more proactive approach, improve communication with facilities and customers, and realize additional cost savings.

Goals & Progress

In 2017, we set 2025 goals to:

  • Using a fiscal year 2017 baseline, reduce raw materials/logistical costs used to produce current product offering by one percent.
  • Move from non-green (oil-based, more energy intensive) to green material sourcing if it is economically feasible and doing so provides high quality products to our customers.

To progress on our 2025 goals, we incorporate our goals into our RFQ process when soliciting potential suppliers. Our sourcing managers incorporate topics such as carbon content, recyclability and packaging improvement into conversations with many of our suppliers to identify opportunities to advance our goals. We have made green material substitutions to increase the use of post-consumer regrind plastic in our products. We increased our efficiency with corrugated cardboard boxes and other packaging materials to increase reusability, while optimizing logistical routes, to reduce shipping expenditures. In some EMEA facilities, we have introduced a more biodegradable oil to clean our paint lines. The move from non-green products and materials, such as oil-based products, has prompted us to engage in green-material sourcing from our suppliers. We have already begun to move away from solvent based paints to water-based paints and liners for drums. This collaborative work is internally supplemented by internal changes, such as a transition to LED lights. These initiatives are all a part of a larger training initiative with the supply chain team to think-of and develop new projects and integrate sustainability into the buyer’s performance appraisals for 13 of our buyers, including buyers for steel, resin and logistics.

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Together for Sustainability

Since 2014, Greif has worked with Together For Sustainability (TfS), to help build an industry-wide sustainability standard for suppliers to chemical manufacturers. On behalf of its more than 20 chemical manufacturer members, TfS audits supply chain partners on more than 30 management, environment, health and safety, labor and human rights and governance criteria. TfS distributes results to their members to support purchasing decisions, replacing the need for company-specific audits and holding suppliers to a consistent standard for the industry. Nine Greif facilities have been audited, achieving an average score of 93.9 percent, indicating no major concerns at our facilities. In 2020, TfS conducted an audit of our Sultanbeyli, Turkey facility.

TfS Audit Performance

  • RIPS Naperville, Illinois: 100%
  • RIPS Cologne, Germany: 98%
  • RIPS Lockport, Illinois: 98%
  • FPS Sultanbeyli, Turkey: 98%
  • RIPS Europoort, Netherlands: 97%
  • RIPS Attendorn, Germany: 96%
  • RIPS Usti, Czech Republic: 95%
  • RIPS Campana, Argentina: 83%
  • RIPS Shanghai, China: 80%