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Blog, Sustainability

How Greif is Tackling Scope 3 Emissions 

How Greif is tackling Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

By Matt Eichmann, Chief Marketing and Sustainability Officer at Greif | 2 Minute Read | 100% Organic, No AI Assistance

Last month, I spoke at the Industrial Packaging Alliance of North America’s (IPANA) spring conference on Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For those who are not familiar with what those are, Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions generated by a company’s value or supply chain. They typically account for the vast majority of a company’s GHG footprint and are also the hardest and most complex to account for and address.

If you look at the staggering number of climate commitments over the last 5 years, you will notice that many do not include Scope 3 targets or goals. While concerning, it is a testament to the complexity and massive challenge that is associated with reducing emissions that are generally out of your control.

How Greif is Tackling Scope 3 Emissions
Greif is no exception to this rule. In 2022, the company’s Scope 3 emissions were roughly 7x higher than Scope 1 (direct emissions) and roughly 8x higher than Scope 2 (emissions from purchased energy). At Greif, like many other firms, Scope 3 presents both a significant challenge – and opportunity.
How Greif is Tackling Scope 3 Emissions

The Time is Now

This is particularly concerning considering that the latest data from the U.S. National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA) shows that 2022 was the fifth hottest year on record and part of the warmest decade since record-keeping began in 1880. Facing an increasingly dire climate future, what is Greif doing to address scope 3 emissions?

The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. In addition to our journey to continue to reduce Scope 1 & 2 emissions, Greif has committed to completing a Scope 3 emissions assessment by the end of the year (2023). It is a crucial part of Protecting our Future and our longer-term aspiration of building a more sustainable and equitable future.

Collaboration & Trust

The issue comes down to control. While Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are considered to be direct emissions generally within a company’s control, Scope 3 requires a special approach that is rooted in collaboration and trust. Because one company’s direct emissions become another’s Scope 3 indirect emissions – think emissions generated by a raw material supplier – the two parties become intertwined in a quest to achieve meaningful GHG reductions.

Fortunately, the steps to take in this situation are clear – first, companies must baseline their emissions, including Scope 3 emissions and what is driving them. From there, companies must identify value chain stakeholders that need improvement and begin mapping out collaborative steps and actions that can be taken together. This is easier said than done, with the real key being frequent and intentional communications that prioritize transparency and establish the issue as a shared challenge. Lastly, it is important to set realistic and achievable goals. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer size of the problem and the logistical nightmare of trying to coordinate change, so it is important to recognize that progress is always more important than perfection.

At Greif, we know that a significant portion of our Scope 3 emissions are associated with our raw materials and the end-of-life handling of our products. Given that knowledge, we are beginning to engage with our suppliers about lower carbon raw material options and taking steps to advance our reconditioning and recycling networks.

To learn more about Greif’s climate change strategy and our Scope 3 reduction efforts, check out our 14th annual sustainability report or drop your contact info in the form below to receive a copy of my presentation from the 2023 Industrial Packaging of North America conference.

Matt Eichmann is the Chief Marketing and Sustainability Officer at Greif. When he is not working to tackle climate challenges, he’s probably collaborating with his team on another project or spending time with his family. Have an idea or thought about scope 3 reduction strategies? Shoot him a note: 


Download Matt’s presentation here:

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