2020 Sustainability Report

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

Climate Strategy

Driving operational change in a changing world.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goalsindustry, innovation and infrastructureClimate action

Why Climate Strategy Matters

Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

Explain management approach components

Explain management approach components

GRI 302: 103-1, 103-2, 103-3; 305: 103-1, 103-2, 103-3,

Greif integrates our climate strategy into all aspects of operations to ensure we are reducing emissions and combating climate change to our fullest extent. We manufacture our products as efficiently as possible, implement energy and emissions projects throughout our operations and engage with partners across our value chain to further extend our impact beyond our walls. In addition to being part of our responsibility as a global manufacturer, our climate efforts provide a competitive advantage.


Greif’s 2020 CDP Score

Demonstrating excellence in carbon management, governance, strategy and best practices, and outperforming the overall and North American average CDP score of D.


We integrate energy efficiency throughout the organization. Energy efficiency is a consideration in capital deployment. All Greif colleagues are eligible for awards and recognition related to energy reduction. Since 2010 Greif has maintained a Global Energy Team, currently consisting of more than 20 members, that is responsible for coordinating energy and emissions reduction projects throughout the company. In 2019, we restructured the team to place an increased emphasis on including regional leadership to better engage and identify energy opportunities within each business unit and legacy Caraustar facilities. This change in structure has streamlined our energy roadmap process, allowing us to focus on and invest in the business units and facilities that have the most impactful energy opportunities.

Whereas previously each facility was responsible for developing their own roadmap, regional leadership is now responsible for collaborating with each business unit to identify energy reduction and efficiency opportunities. Four of our production facilities have achieved ISO 50001 certification for energy management.

In 2020 we implemented 73 energy efficiency projects, resulting in $724,419 of savings across our organization. These projects include replacing equipment and updating processes that reduce energy demand, such as replacing ovens, boilers and adjusting water temperatures and implementing energy efficiency practices, such as lighting and HVAC replacements. For more information about our energy efficiency projects, please see section C4.2 and C4.3b of our 2020 CDP Climate Response.

A focus in 2020 was fully integrating legacy Caraustar facilities into our energy and emissions reporting. Our legacy Caraustar facilities now account for approximately 45 percent of our energy consumption and emissions impact globally, which has changed the scale of our impact and led us to adopt new mitigation activities appropriate for our business.

In 2020, we began taking steps to better understand our broader climate impact and align to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) recommendations. To begin this process, we conducted a gap analysis of our current climate management practices against TCFD recommendations to identify priority areas of focus to advance our climate strategy and modeled potential climate targets under multiple temperature scenarios. This work led to the identification and approval of our new 2030 emissions target and revealed a need to conduct a more detailed scenario analysis to better understand both our transitional and physical climate-related risks and opportunities. Our currently identified climate-related risks and opportunities are summarized below and discussed in further detail in our CDP response. In 2021 we will conduct a scenario analysis intended to deepen our understanding of these risks and opportunities, validate if they are the most material climate-related risks and opportunities and uncover additional potentially material climate-related risks and opportunities that should inform our overall climate strategy. As we conduct this work, we are pleased to include our first TCFD index in this year’s report, demonstrating our current areas of alignment with TCFD recommendations. We are looking forward to building on this progress in 2021.

 Risk / Opportunity




Impacts to production capacity

Climate change, to the extent it produces rising temperatures inducing sea level rise, may adversely impact our ability to manufacture and transport our products. Our operations include facilities in low-lying coastal areas such as Europoort, Vreeland, and Asterweg, in the Netherlands; Malaysia; and Singapore, all which may be significantly impacted by sea level rise. 


Impacts to indirect (operating) costs

Climate change, to the extent it impacts the price of our raw materials, fuel, transportation, and natural gas costs impacts our production and raw material supply costs. Impacts may be caused by increased regulation, changing market conditions, and impacts on our supply chain.


Impacts to revenues due to reduced production capacity

Climate change, to the extent it impacts the frequency and severity of precipitation extremes and related natural disasters— including wildfires and flooding—may impact our ability to manufacture and transport our products. Such climate-related extremes may impact our footprint in any geography at any time.


Development and/or expansion of low emission goods and services

Greif works with our raw material suppliers, transportation partners, and internal teams to develop lighter weight and more energy efficient products and provide transportation and ancillary services to help our customers reduce emissions associated with our packaging (e.g. EcoBalance, NexDRUM®). Our engagement with customers through “Voice of the Customer” interviews and surveys, materiality assessment interviews, and other avenues, confirms that our customers have a desire for low emission products. 


Shift in consumer preferences
As corporations, investors, and the general public become increasingly attuned to climate change issues, industrial manufacturing clients are at risk of changing public perceptions around a company’s operations and product lines. By developing products and services that decrease customers' GHG emissions and waste in their value chain Greif can set itself apart from competitors, garner market share and reinforce its positive reputation.


Use of more efficient production and distribution processes
Due to potential changes in legislation/regulation, we could incur increased energy, environmental and other costs and capital expenditures to comply. However, this also affords us the opportunity to further improve our energy efficiency, thereby reducing our costs and exposure to these risks.
*Please see Greif's 2020 CDP Climate Change Response for additional information

Goals & Progress

2020 marked the end of our current energy and greenhouse gas goal, but not the end of our commitment to reduce our environmental impact. In 2020, we conducted a detailed analysis and evaluation with a third party of our ability to commit to a goal that would be approved by the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi). We are excited to announce our commitment to reduce our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 28 percent by 2030, from a 2019 baseline. This new target is aligned with prevailing climate science to limit overall global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and builds upon the company’s 11 percent emissions reduction per unit of production accomplishment achieved in 2020. By the end of 2023, Greif will also complete an assessment of its Scope 3 emissions and determine the feasibility of a long-term net zero emissions aspiration in alignment with the Science-based Targets Initiative.

To achieve our new target, we will build upon our existing investments in energy efficient equipment, onsite solar power, and grid-sourced green electricity with a strategic approach that will include additional energy efficiency initiatives and sourcing of offsite, large-scale renewable energy.

2020 Goal: 10 percent reduction in energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of production, from a fiscal 2014 baseline.

Progress: As of the end of fiscal 2020, we achieved an 11 percent emissions reduction per unit of production decrease from a fiscal 2014 baseline and 1.1 percent reduction in energy consumption per unit of production from the 2014 baseline.

2030 Goal: Reduce absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions 28 percent over a 2019 baseline. Greif will also complete an assessment of Scope 3 emissions and determine the feasibility of a long-term net zero emissions aspiration by the end of 2023.



FY 2014* 

FY 2015

Fy 2016

FY 2017

Fy 2018

FY 2019

FY 2020


Total Energy Consumption (MWh)







% Reduction in Energy per Unit of Production

(Baseline year)






% Reduction in Emissions per Unit of Production**

(Baseline year)






GHG Emissions (Metric Tons)

Scope 1





Scope 2 (Location-based)


Scope 3




  1. Source: Greif 2020 CDP Climate Response
  2. Energy and emissions data accounts for all legacy Greif and Caraustar facilities from 2019 forward.
  3. Emissions data accounts for CO2, CH4 and N2O.
  4. Scope 3 emissions takes into account upstream transportation and distribution. In 2017, scope 3 was expanded to include purchased goods and services, capital goods, fuel and energy related activities not included in Scope 1 and 2, including waste generated in operations, business travel, employee commuting and end of life treatment of sold products. Data based on legacy Greif Facilities only.
  5. 2020 GHG Verification Statement
*To standardize emissions and inform year-over-year progress toward our 2025 goal, our 2014 emissions data has been restated to correct several facilities’ eGRID regions. Total does not include 246,000 metric tons of CO2e from biogenic sources.
**Our percent reduction in emissions per unit of production dropped from FY 2015 to FY 2016 due to increased fugitive emissions from our Riverville, Virginia, paper mill and total emissions from our Massillon, Ohio, paper mill. Updated emissions and global warming potential factors also contributed to this change. Data based on legacy Greif facilities only to maintain comperability with 2014 baseline.
^ These figures have been restated to better account for steam usage at one of our mills. 
Highlight Stories
Highlight Stories

Energy Efficiency in Production

Greif recently made a large scale investment in a new blow molding machine used to manufacture Greif’s plastic jerrycans at our Casablanca, Morocco plant. The new machine uses up to 30 percent less energy than older generation machines while also delivering significantly higher productivity levels. The new equipment increases production capacity by up to 25 percent for our one- to five-liter bottles and is designed to optimize and reduce raw material usage, extending the environmental benefit of the machine beyond energy use.

The team in Morocco also implemented other energy efficiency projects such as eliminating air leakages in our plastic and steel plants, replacing hydraulic extruders with electric ones on four machines, upgrading old equipment and replacing DC motors with AC motors on several blow molding machines that help to significantly reduce our energy consumption.