Improving products and processes to reduce our footprint and drive customer satisfaction.


  • In 2022, we started a new function for sustainable innovation and dedicated appropriate and significant resources to ensure its initial success. We are committed to creating shared value for customers, shareholders and the environment through sustainable innovation.
  • Our robust definition of innovation encourages all parts of the company to participate in transforming our product portfolio and organizational processes.
  • Our innovation approach evaluates, prioritizes and elevates projects based on potential financial return, sustainability impact and overall value to Greif and our customers.
  • Over $1 billion of our fiscal year 2022 revenue is attributed to sustainability-tagged products and services.

Why Innovation Matters

GRI: 3-3
Management of material topics

Prioritizing innovation allows Greif to grow and evolve alongside our customers toward a more sustainable future. We seek opportunities to improve our products and processes by conducting thorough analyses of our value chain, from raw material extraction to product end-of-life. The Protecting Our Future mission within our Build to Last strategy is focused on embracing a low-carbon and circular economy future by innovating new, more sustainable products that reduce our negative impacts on the environment and create a positive impact.


Our robust definition of innovation encourages all parts of the company to participate in transforming our product portfolio and organizational processes. In 2022, we stood up a new function for sustainable innovation and dedicated appropriate and significant resources to ensure its initial success. Innovation is managed by our Director of Sustainable Innovation and Global Innovation Team, comprising representatives from each of Greif’s business units. The team structure facilitates idea-sharing and collaboration across the enterprise. In 2022, we standardized procedures to create a unified process for colleagues at every level of the organization to share ideas and drive innovation through our Growth Board Process. The team regularly meets with Greif’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and the Greif Board of Directors, providing progress updates on innovation priorities and industry trends that may influence investment and overall company strategy in the future.

We use eight environmental, social and financial criteria to guide the development of our sustainable packaging solutions. Circularity and dematerialization principles are the central focus of these criteria and our innovation efforts. Alongside our internal innovation programs, we collaborate with our customers to deliver products that are lighter weight, utilize more recycled raw materials and are designed for recyclability and fewer emissions while continuing to meet performance and safety requirements. Our innovation approach evaluates, prioritizes and elevates projects based on potential financial return, sustainability impact and overall value to Greif and our customers.

The Greif Green Tool continues to be essential for us to communicate our innovations and sustainable products and solutions. We observed a significant increase in customer requests to use this tool in 2022. The Greif Green Tool enables us to give customers insights into how various packaging options, transportation options and product end scenarios impact GHG emissions. We plan to update the tool with our latest product information to ensure data and product classifications remain up to date.

The Greif Green Tool Lite, a simpler version of our Green Tool, provides carbon footprint and reduction metrics for our most-sold IBCs and fiber, plastic and steel drum products. Due to the number of customer requests for Greif Green Tool analyses, we developed the Lite version to provide detailed environmental impact data more efficiently for our most-sold products.


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. Developed by a third party to be based on ISO 14040/14044 standards, the Green Tool allows customers to review and compare the environmental impact of plastic drums, steel drums, IBCs, fiber 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, Greif Green Tool Lite allows us to quickly provide information 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.

Our innovation priorities vary based on the specific needs of each of our business units and their customers. In 2022, our Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) business continued to institute multiple sustainable product projects to reduce material use. For example, some innovative ideas may include aspects that reduce carbon footprint, reduce the impact on other environmental factors and use less raw material.

Across our Paper Packaging & Services (PPS) business, we collaborate closely with our customers to develop innovative solutions to meet their performance and sustainability needs. Each month, our core development and strategy teams meet to discuss the progress of innovation projects within PPS and act on any challenges. The Innovation Team meets quarterly to ensure sustained progress against our innovation objectives. We continue to develop innovative, recycled material-based products that replace virgin-based products and remove plastic by incorporating our barrier coatings. We improve our circular economy strategy and meet customers’ demands for enhanced end-of-life solutions by developing recycled and compostable paperboard products. These products include paperboard for food-grade packaging, food service items, beverage carriers and EasyPour® construction cores. Through these innovative products and collaboration with customers, we reduced our and our customers’ carbon footprints, enhanced brand value by entering new markets and realized cost savings. PPS commercialized many sustainable products in 2022 that have replaced significant quantities of single-use plastic packaging and other non-recyclable products.


Meeting Consumer Demand for More Sustainable Packaging

Consumer demand for sustainable food and beverage packaging is increasing demand for more sustainable products. Our PPS business works with customers and partners to develop innovative products that replace virgin-based products with recycled material products or products that replace plastic from packaging with our barrier coatings. We developed the EnviroBevTM beverage carrier to replace a virgin-based product with a 100% recycled, wet-strength material for craft brewery beverage carriers. In 2021, PPS also commercialized food-grade packaging—cupstock, platestock and bowls—made from recycled fiber with an aqueous-based coating. This coating replaces the polyethylene extrusion typically used in food-grade packing, enabling the packaging to be more readily composted or recycled. Combined, these innovations will replace 14,000 tons of virgin-based material with recycled material. The PPS Innovation Team was awarded the 2021 Michael J. Gasser Sustainability Award for their contribution toward our circular economy strategy while meeting the needs of our customers.

Goals, Progress & Performance

In 2022, we introduced a Growth Board Process that allows Greif colleagues to become in-house entrepreneurs. The Growth Board process empowers Greif colleagues to generate, develop, evaluate and implement innovations that meet customer demand for sustainable products and services, provide process efficiencies and improvements or open our products portfolio to new markets. In its first year, we have seen significant interest and progress across our innovation priorities through the Growth Board Process. Additionally, as part of our strategy to advance the circular economy, Greif has increased its focus on post-consumer resin (PCR) products and reconditioning.

In 2022, Greif had over $1 billion in revenue from sustainability-tagged products and services, including life cycle services, for Greif’s Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) business unit.

Highlight Stories

Laser Markings on IBCs

Greif Sweden/Nordic is the first in the market to replace ink jet markings with laser markings on Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), reducing the use of solvent-based ink during production. By eliminating the use of solvents and ink, the production environment is cleaner. We also are able to reduce the weight of the IBC by one kilogram by removing the plate traditionally used for laser marking. We believe this innovation will set a new standard for markings on IBCs.

Laser Markings
Highlight Stories

Knock Down Drums (KDD) for Remote Locations

Greif’s Knock Down Drums (KDD) offer the optimal sustainable solution for transporting steel drums to remote locations. Semi-finished drum parts are shipped and assembled locally on site with minimum people and equipment. The unique concept allows transportation of up to 1,176 KDDs in a 20’ sea container compared to 80 full finished drums, saving valuable space, optimizing transport costs and minimizing our customers' carbon footprint during longer transit times. Drums are delivered directly to our customers' filling station helping to improve efficiencies with minimum stock and less manual handling.

Knock Down Drums
Highlight Stories

Lightweighting and Innovating the Shape of Jerrycans

Greif manufactured our first lighter weight 20 and 25-liter jerrycan models in 2015. This design is 15 percent lighter than the previous model while maintaining performance specifications of the previous design. Due to the reduced weight, the new jerrycans reduce materials and energy used in production by up to 15 percent and have a reduced emissions impact. In 2019, we expanded this product line to include sizes 16 and 18 liters. We now produce our lighter jerrycans in Italy, Israel, Sweden and Singapore.

Shape of Jerrycans
Highlight Stories

ECOEX Jerrycans

COEX multilayer plastic packaging combines several layers of different plastics materials into a single structure and offers many barrier performance benefits, particularly for agrochemical and food packaging applications. However, when reground, COEX plastics can only be used in low performance applications. In response to our customers’ need for recyclable packaging with superior barrier performance, we created our ECOEX line of jerrycans. The ECOEX technology enables Greif to produce an innovative, multilayer jerrycan that can be recycled through regrinding processes to produce high performing, UN Certified jerrycans and bottles. ECOEX also reduces costs for our customers who typically pay an increased collection fee for COEX packaging collection after use. We continue to drive innovation that supports our circular economy strategy and meets our customers’ needs. The LATAM GIP team was awarded the 2021 Michael J. Gasser Sustainability Award for their contribution towards our circular economy strategy while meeting the needs of our customers.

ECOEX Jerrycans
Highlight Stories

A Lighter Approach

In order to respond to customer demands to remove weight and optimize transportation costs, our Greif Latin America colleagues designed a novel plastic drum innovation using a never seen before facetted side-wall approach for large plastic drums. This improvement removed up to 14 percent of the resin in the drum while maintaining performance. Not only does the design reduce raw material usage, it also optimized pallet utilization due to its unique configuration which allows more drums to be transported in the same space as the legacy design. The faceted drum is a more sustainable solution both in reducing natural resource consumption and lowering fossil fuel-based raw material usage and CO2 emissions during transportation.

Lighter Approach
Highlight Stories

Better Branding with Drum 360

At Greif, we now have the ability to print high-resolution images directly onto steel drums using the latest print technologies. This capability is the direct result of an investment designed to meet the needs of customers who are looking for ways to differentiate their products and generate impactful packaging design to support the price point of high value products. In addition to adding value for our customers, this process eliminated the need for a standard gas oven, using LED-based UV curing during the production process. This new process saves 0.5 kilograms CO2 per drum. Greif strategically placed the new Drum 360 technology in plants close to customers who use this new technology, in the Belgium, France, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Poland.

Branding with Drum 360
Highlight Stories

GCUBE Connect: Real-time Tracking for your IBCs

Greif’s GCUBE Connect solution, launched at LogiChem virtual conference, gives real time tracking information about a customer’s IBC through the application of an Internet of Things-based device. A customer-based dashboard displays in real time where an IBC is sited, the level of the filled product and the environmental temperature. This dashboard allows customers to plan in advance for deliveries of filled product and the arrival of new IBCs, as well as schedule collections of empty IBCs. GCUBE Connect also supports better management of residue in the IBCs. Each IBC that enters the facility is automatically weighed to determine how much residue is in the container to determine how it will be treated. This innovation pairs well with Greif France’s ability to pick up and drop off reconditioned IBCs from any site along a customer’s supply chain, as opposed to one single location. Together, they simplify the logistics for the customer and increase transparency.

Tracking for your IBCs
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