Cradle to Cradle Manufacturing, Reconditioning, Reuse & Recycling

Committed to a circular economy that diverts used packaging from landfills, preserves resources and reduces use of virgin materials.

Why Cradle to Cradle Manufacturing, Reconditioning, Reuse & Recycling Matters

GRI: 103-1 | 103-2 | 103-3;
103-1
Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

103-2
Explain management approach components

103-3
Evaluate management approach
Greif actively manages the life cycle of industrial packaging through manufacturing, 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 Circular Economy management through product development, manufacturing, reconditioning, reuse and recycling solutions helps divert waste from landfills and conserves precious natural resources while strengthening relationships within our supply chain. As the demand for sustainable solutions increases, our collaborative efforts with our suppliers and our customers enable us all to reach our collective sustainability goals.

Governance

Greif’s strength, as an organization, is the breadth of our products covered by our Life Cycle Services (LCS) including steel, plastic and paper products. Therefore, we are working to connect our many life cycle services across our businesses globally. Our Leadership Council prioritized sustainability this year and was divided into five teams each dedicated to a specific area of sustainability, including circularity. The circularity team was dedicated to advancing and operationalizing circularity within our operations and across our value chain. Near the end of 2021, this team created the Global Circularity Team, which is tasked with collecting data and understanding our current circular economy status to inform our 2030 targets. We will develop our 2030 circular economy goals in 2022.

Greif’s Life Cycle Services network collects used, empty, steel, plastic and Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) rigid packaging products and reconditions or recycles them to be suitable for reuse and then reintroduces them into trade. The reconditioned containers reduce the demand for virgin raw materials while decreasing the number of containers that go to landfills. If we cannot recondition containers, we recycle the materials to use for other products. Many of Greif’s largest customers use our LCS network to recondition their containers. Customers who use the network can receive reports through the Greif Green Tool, enabling them to quantify impact by tracking key indicators such as carbon footprint reduction, waste reduction and material savings. In 2021, we developed our Greif Green Tool Lite, which houses a smaller number of products than the Greif Green Tool, but it allows us to more quickly run analyses for customers. This year, we also introduced our new IBC collections app in four countries in Europe. Through the app customers can submit requests for Greif to pick up their discarded packaging products and recondition them. We plan to expand this app to additional regions in 2022. Across Global Industrial Packaging (GIP), we reconditioned, remanufactured or recycled more than 4.5 million containers, and our Paper & Packaging Services (PPS) business managed over 3.2 million metric tons of recycled fiber in 2021.

Greif Recycling Operations

Paper Packaging & Services

94,991

Metric Tons of Virgin Materials Saved

Our recycling, reconditioning and reuse operations helped us remove over 94,991 metric tons of virgin steel, high-density polyethylene and wood from our supply chain in 2021.

In addition to our reconditioning operations, Greif operates 19 recycling facilities in our Paper Packaging & Services (PPS) business. Through these facilities, we offer complete outsourcing solutions for plastics, pulp and paper fiber procurement, transportation and administration and provide complete paper fiber audit and management solutions. 99.2 percent of the products we handle, by volume, are paper fiber. Our paper fiber recycling operations collect waste paper for use in our own containerboard mills and for sale to other containerboard and recycled paper product manufacturers. Because of our integrated capabilities, Greif holds a central position in the paper recycling industry and operates as a net positive recycler. We use approximately 50 percent of the fiber we collect in our operations to manufacture paper products for use in consumer and industrial settings. The remaining 50 percent of the fiber we collect is sold to external mills and other manufacturing operations to produce new paperboard, molded fiber packaging and other products. More than 78 percent of the fiber we use in our paper manufacturing is from purely recycled inputs.

We are proud to be able to offer services that enable the reuse of fiber. Recovered fiber is an input to many essential goods but has suffered from reductions in supply through the economic closures caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, recovered fiber value was at historical lows with the cost of recovery greater than the fiber value for many recyclers. Since the onset of COVID-19, the supply of recovered fiber has lagged behind the demand. Due to high-demand and a shortage of recycling infrastructure, there is insufficient fiber volume to satisfy demand resulting in historically high costs. Today the critical importance of expanding access to recycling is clear, particularly as more commerce takes place at the home instead of in stores. Through our sales force and participation in various industry groups, we are doing our part to educate the market on the dynamics of the changing industry to ensure this remains a viable business with a robust supply chain for all the essential goods that depend on recovered fiber inputs.

Infographic

Global Industrial Packaging

In our Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) business, we look for reuse and recycling opportunities wherever possible. 91 percent of our plastic products are recyclable and 100 percent of our internal regrind plastic, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of our drums and IBCs, is reincorporated into our products. We recycle 90 percent of our internal scrap used to produce our flexible products and the balance is sold to recycling companies. There is approximately seven percent recycled plastic (internal scrap) in our FPS plastics products. We make our steel products from approximately 15 percent recycled steel globally and 33 percent recycled steel in North America.

Cradle to cradle and the use of recycled products are just two components of our circular economy strategy that span across our operations and value chain. As part of that strategy, we are working to drive circular economy principles in five key areas:

  • Reducing raw material use
  • Waste reduction and reducing natural resource use
  • Innovation and increasing recyclability, and use of recycled materials, in our products
  • Fiber-based alternatives to single-use plastics
  • Life cycle services

Please see the Supply Chain Management, Waste, and Innovation pages of our report for more information about how our circular economy strategy spans our entire business.

In 2022, we will continue the evolution and expansion of our reconditioning services. In our PPS business, we place greater emphasis on our fiber business to identify solutions that will be valuable to our customers and work to bring them to life.

Performance

LIFE CYCLE SERVICES – ESTIMATED DRUMS AND IBCS RECONDITIONED*

 

FY 2017

FY 2018
FY 2019
FY 2020
FY 2021

Recycled

904,883

849,498

831,576

968,296  1,153,345

Steel Drums

534,369

571,355

509,884

562,980  987,427

Poly Drums

212,272

161,447

243,186

358,280  95,176

IBCs

158,242

116,696

78,506

47,036  70,742

Reconditioned

3,218,885

3,258,848

3,533,358

3,276,259  3,164,809

Steel Drums

2,565,052

2,713,025

2,699,393

2,483,485  2,185,329

Poly Drums

321,188

244,497

194,011

178,627  141,782

IBCs

332,645

301,326

639,954

614,147  837,698

Total Collected

4,136,828

4,105,936

4,348,706

4,164,585  4,345,284

Steel Drums

3,099,633

3,284,380

3,193,049

2,971,549  3,192,196

Poly Drums

535,460

405,944

437,197

536,281  236,958

IBCs

501,735

415,612

718,460

656,755  916,130

Virgin Materials Saved by Reconditioning and Reuse (Metric Tons)**

63,111

63,587

76,415

71,149  74,713

Steel

56,200

57,664

66,860

62,016  63,143

High-Density Polyethylene

5,150

4,243

5,897

5,553  6,610

Wood

1,761

1,680

3,659

3,580  4,960

Virgin Materials Saved by Recycling (Metric Tons)***

18,755

16,644

14,117

14,358  19,772

Steel

13,463

12,697

10,273

10,215  17,394

High-Density Polyethylene

4,580

3,385

3,402

3,871  1,960

Wood

712

562

442

272 418
1. Virgin Materials Saved by Reconditioning and Reuse data has been restated to standardize units across regions
*Estimated Drums and Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) Recycled and Reconditioned (North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa)
**Estimates based on the quantity of reconditioned packaging and average packaging specifications (North America and Europe)
***Estimates based on the quantity of recycled packaging and average packaging specifications (North America and Europe)

REBU – ESTIMATED FLEXIBLE INTERMEDIATE BULK CONTAINERS (FIBCS) RECONDITIONED EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA 

 

FY 2017

FY 2018

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

 Total FIBCs Collected  -

316,324

275,732

242,000

220,132

Reconditioned

 -

224,418

179,912

167,000

60,719

Recycled

 -

91,906

95,820

75,000

159,413

Total Virgin Polyethylene Saved (Metric Tons)

 

727.6

634.2
556.6

506.3

Virgin Polyethylene Saved by Reconditioning and Reuse (Metric Tons)*

 -

516.2

413.8

384.1

366.6

Virgin Polyethylene Saved by Recycling (Metric Tons)**

 -

211.4

220.4

172.5

139.7

 

*Estimates based on the quantity of reconditioned packaging and average packaging specifications (Europe)
**Estimates based on the quantity of recycled packaging and average packaging specifications (Europe)
Highlight Stories

Using Recycled Plastic in IBC Molding

Greif’s Tri-Sure facility in Carol Stream collaborated with GIP North America purchasing, GIP Italy and four GIP NA plants to source 800,000 pounds of recycled plastic resins to use in the production of IBC rear/corner feet and corner protectors. This internal sourcing strategy reduced costs by $100,000. The team also reused empty corrugated bulk boxes to ship the recycled products they manufacture, reducing corrugated bulk box purchases by 84 percent. The project created company value and established environmental and financial benefits, while closing two internal loop systems and contributing to circular economy principles by diverting waste from landfills and finding a new purpose for them. Due to the outstanding sustainability impact of the project and its ability to be scaled to other molding and injection molding facilities, the project and Tri-Sure Carol Stream team was awarded the Michael J. Gasser Sustainability Award.

Highlight Stories

Fiber Recycling for the Flooring Industry

In 2020, our Dalton, Georgia Recycling Facility worked with the floor covering manufacturers in the Dalton area to process recovered fiber and create a “closed loop” for paperboard cores. Each year, the Dalton Recycling team recovers tens of thousands of tons of core waste from these manufacturers and recovers this waste fiber. This same fiber is used by Greif’s paper mills to manufacture 100 percent recycled new paperboard, which is then converted into new tubes and cores in Greif’s Industrial Products Group (IPG). This initiative helps not only sustain the recycling programs in Dalton but also maintain our level of excellent customer service with IPG customers. Annually, this program helps recycle 25,000 tons of cores, 10,000 tons of cardboard, 5,000 tons of boxboard and 2,000 tons of plastic film from the flooring industry in north Georgia.

Highlight Stories

Reconditioning Conical Drums in Portugal

For the past 20 years Greif’s RIPS facility in Iberia, Portugal has been supplying customers with reconditioned conical drums, having reconditioned over 10 million drums and saving 50,000 tons of steel, 197,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions, 2,600,000 gigajoules of energy and 343,200 cubic meters of water in the process. The project was initially started as a way to help address our customers’ wish to reduce waste and lower their carbon footprint and overall improve customer satisfaction. The team collaborated with customers to understand their needs, including volume, specification requirements and safety, developed a reconditioning process and ultimately installed a reconditioning line to begin serving customers. Today, the facility serves a multitude of customers, reconditioning 500,000 conical drums and saving 5,200 tons of steel each year.

Highlight Stories

Expanding Cradle to Cradle Services with Investments and Joint Ventures

In 2020, Greif made investments and established multiple joint ventures in order to expand the scale and capabilities of the reuse, recycling and reconditioning services we provide. In April of 2020, Greif acquired a minority stake in Centurion Container LLC, expanding our intermediate bulk container (IBC) reconditioning network in North America. In August of 2020, Greif established a joint venture with Delta Plastics, the leading independent supplier of reconditioned IBCs in the United Kingdom. Finally, in December of 2020, Greif acquired a minority stake in LAF s.r.l., expanding IBC reconditioning services for our Italy-based customers. We look forward to working with our partners to continue to reduce our environmental impact through cradle to cradle solutions.

Highlight Stories

Greif Green Tool

The Greif Green Tool is a flexible calculator that uses independent lifecycle data of Greif industrial packaging products - designed to assist our customers in making informed decisions about which industrial packaging best suits their products and to achieve their sustainability goals. The Green Tool allows customers to review and compare the environmental impact of plastic drums, steel drums, IBCs, fibre drums and big bags specifically related to their business. Results can be used to create an environmental baseline and help customers make meaningful comparisons between different packaging types and track their progress over time. To supplement the Greif Green Tool, we launched the Greif Green Tool Lite, which allows us to provide information more quickly to our customers. The Greif Green Tool Lite provides carbon footprint and reduction metrics that our customers can achieve by switching to a more sustainable product.

Highlight Stories

State of the Art Reconditioning Services in Lille

Greif’s LCS facility in Lille, France has taken significant steps to innovate the logistics associated with offering reconditioning services to our customers. Traditionally, empty IBCs were picked up from and delivered to a single location for a single customer. LCS Lille has begun picking up from locations along our customers supply chain, then delivering reconditioned IBCs back to our customers, simplifying logistics for our customers. Lille has also implemented Datamatrix, a traceability system that allows us to record all production steps from reception to delivery, have visibility into the origins of an IBC and provide a real time view of our inventory in support of overall enhanced customer service. Datamatrix also supports better management of residue in the IBCs they collect. Each IBC that enters the facility is automatically weighed to determine how much residue is in the container and inform how it is treated. With Datamatrix, this information can be sent directly back to customers to improve how they manage IBCs that are ready for pick-up. Lille uses a closed loop water system for water that is used to clean IBCs recycling 100 percent of the water they use, and collects, treats and shreds plastic that is used to manufacture new IBCs and plastic drums.

Highlight Stories

Providing Our Customers a Circular Solution

The CorrChoice GreenGuard® product line provides our customers with a food safe recyclable and repulpable alternative to supplemental materials, such as plastic liners. Our GreenGuard® line of paper coatings are safe for direct contact with most food types and feature oil, grease, water, moisture and abrasion resistance as well as an innovative wax replacement technology. By applying the coating to corrugated containers, we eliminate the need for supplemental materials used in many food applications. We work with our customers to ensure our products meet their needs for safe and secure food handling while providing packaging products that are 100% recyclable and repulpable, advancing our circular economy strategy while enabling our customers to meet their sustainability objectives.

Previous
Next

SUSTAINABILITY HIGHLIGHTS

4.5 M

Containers Collected, Recycled and Reconditioned

Through our Life Cycle Services network, we collected, recycled and reconditioned steel drums, poly drums, IBCs and FIBCs.

94,991

Metric Tons of Virgin Materials Saved

Our recycling, reconditioning and reuse operations helped us remove over 94,991 metric tons of virgin steel, high-density polyethylene and wood from our supply chain in 2021.