A letter from our Chairman

A letter from our Chairman

GRI 102-14
Statement from senior decision-maker


Peter G. Watson
Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors

We are pleased to share our 2020 Sustainability Report with you. Despite unprecedented challenges related to the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Greif delivered on its status as an essential business and generated significant value for our stakeholders. That we overcame such obstacles highlights our colleagues’ discipline, resolve and extraordinary dedication to our business and customers.

Greif made meaningful progress across our three strategic priorities – Engaged Teams, Differentiated Customer Service and Enhanced Performance – in 2020, all while advancing our sustainability focus as we continue the pursuit of our vision: In industrial packaging, be the best performing customer service company in the world.

The health and safety of our Greif colleagues is our first priority. We responded to COVID-19 from a position of strength and took proactive steps to prioritize the safety and well-being of our colleagues. We adapted our work practices and methods within our operations to reliably serve our customer needs. The Company implemented a variety of safety measures in response to the pandemic, formed global and regional task forces and launched a dedicated micro site internally for colleagues to access the latest Company and health authority information, guidelines and policies. Thanks to these efforts and the ongoing dedication of our colleagues, we lowered both our medical case and lost workday case rates compared to 2019 despite challenging external circumstances.

We embraced virtual training and promoted personal development opportunities. We are proud to remain as a recognized leader in colleague engagement in the manufacturing sector. We also expanded customer service training programs in 2020 that contributed to the Company once again achieving record Net Promotor Score and Customer Service Index scores.

A strong culture of servant leadership provides the foundation for better business results. Although the macroeconomic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 impacted our profitability in 2020, we still advanced our financial priorities of generating cash and paying down debt, delivering strong free cash flow while returning capital to shareholders via dividends.

Our sustainability initiatives also continued to receive external recognition. We were awarded with our third consecutive gold rating from EcoVadis and our third consecutive A- rating on CDP Climate Change. We were once again awarded an A for Supplier Engagement by CDP for our actions and strategies to reduce emissions and manage climate risks in our supply chain. The Company was also recognized as one of America’s most responsible companies for the second consecutive year by Newsweek underscoring our commitment to be a conscientious global citizen, a responsive community neighbor and a responsible steward of our natural resources.

To ensure that our sustainability programs continue to meet the expectations of internal and external stakeholders, we conducted our second materiality assessment in 2020. The assessment confirmed that Greif’s strategic priorities and sustainability initiatives are well aligned while highlighting opportunities to further develop our climate strategy, circular economy practices and efforts to foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.

While we are proud of our climate-related achievements to date, we recognize the urgency that climate change related impacts have on our organization and planet. To further assess and mitigate our climate impacts and exposures, we utilized recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and conducted a detailed gap analysis and review of our current strategy. We also recently commenced our first climate change scenario analysis.

We are pleased to announce that we have established our most ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target to date. Greif will reduce its absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions 28 percent by 2030, over 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. To achieve this new goal, the Company will pursue a strategy and build upon our existing investments in energy efficient equipment and examine options to further utilize grid-sourced renewable energy and other alternative energy sources. We will also pursue sourcing offsite, large-scale renewable energy. Finally, by the end of 2023, we will assess our Scope 3 emissions to determine the feasibility of a long-term net zero emissions aspiration in alignment with the Science-based Targets Initiative.

Our circular economy strategy focuses on reducing, reusing and reconditioning / recycling products at the end of their useful lives. Greif is already a net-positive recycler in our Paper Packaging & Services business and we continue to grow reconditioning capabilities in our Global Industrial Packaging business to better service evolving customer needs. We are also advancing our circular supply chain and innovation capabilities by reducing waste in our operations. In 2020 we achieved 39 zero-waste to landfill facilities, saved over 86,000 metrics tons of virgin materials and diverted 71 percent of our operational waste globally from going to landfills. In 2021, we will accelerate our progress and further embed our circular economy capabilities deeper into our business strategy.

We are serious about attracting and retaining the best talent at Greif and are taking steps to create a stronger culture of diversity, equity and inclusion within our organization. In 2020, senior leaders participated with colleagues in active listening sessions about race and equality to ensure our behaviors align to our value systems outlined in The Greif Way. We also introduced additional colleague resource groups, personally sponsored by me, to strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Finally, we conducted a pay equity study and implemented concrete actions, in addition to an improved pay equity policy, based on study findings.

We are proud to share our 2020 progress in our 12th annual sustainability report. Our report, prepared in full accordance with the GRI Standards Core guidelines and SASB Containers and Packaging standards, serves as our annual Communication on Progress to the United Nations Global Compact. We are also proud to issue our first report demonstrating our current alignment with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations.

Best Regards,


Peter G. Watson

Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors



Recognition from EcoVadis

Received for our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, placing us in the top three percent of all assessed suppliers.


Average Customer Satisfaction Index Score

Our highest scores ever, demonstrating our commitment to serving our customers better.