Circular Manufacturing

Committed to a circular economy that diverts used packaging from landfills, preserves resources and reduces use of virgin materials to reduce the impact on the environment from the use of our products.


  • In January of 2023, we announced our 2030 circularity targets focused on recyclability, use of recycled raw materials and product recovery.
  • In 2023, we completed an acquisition and increased our ownership in Centurion Container, a leader in North American intermediate bulk container (IBC) and plastic drum reconditioning, from 9 percent to 80 percent in an all-cash transaction for $145 million. This acquisition directly supports our third Build to Last mission of Protecting our Future through investments in the circular economy.
  • By integrating recycling services into products and services, we can provide customers with more circular solutions and expand our business opportunities.
  • In 2023, we developed a business plan for our Northwestern and Central Europe operations aimed at driving progress toward our 2030 targets. This will include a focus on sourcing strategies, technological requirements for post-consumer resin (PCR) production, and an expansion of PCR production and our Life Cycle Services (LCS) network.

Why Circular Manufacturing Matters

GRI: 3-3 | 301-2 | 306-2
Management of material topics
Recycled input materials used
Management of significant waste-related impacts

Circular economy principles are an important component of Greif’s Build to Last Strategy. By reusing, recycling and reconditioning materials throughout the product lifecycle, we minimize resource use and waste and lower carbon emissions. Achieving circularity and enhancing environmental and social capital requires us to strengthen our internal collaboration and work closely with our suppliers, customers and other value chain partners. For example, increasing waste diversion and material recovery allows us to build stronger relationships with our suppliers. Overall, strategic partnerships across our value chain support our innovation capabilities, enabling us to create solutions that achieve shared goals, minimize environmental impacts and advance our business and sustainability goals.


The Greif Executive Leadership Team oversees our circularity strategy and its implementation. Additionally, Greif’s business unit leaders are responsible for overseeing the implementation of circular manufacturing initiatives across our operations and identifying opportunities for collaboration across business units. We believe that advancing circularity requires collaboration across our organization and puts responsibility across various business functions. For example, our supply chain team is integrating circularity objectives into strategies for key product categories such as resin and steel, forming a roadmap toward our 2030 circularity goals. Sourcing managers also actively explore new supply sources and innovative projects during supplier reviews and conferences, embedding circular principles into daily operations.

Our circular economy strategy focuses on a cradle-to-cradle approach and advances five circular economy principles:

  • Reduction of virgin raw material use.
  • Waste reduction and minimizing natural resource use.
  • Innovation and increasing recyclability, and use of recycled materials.
  • Fiber-based alternatives to single-use plastics.
  • Life cycle services including the collection, reconditioning and recycling of used products.

Reducing our reliance on virgin raw materials involves prioritizing recycled materials and using lightweighting and downgauging techniques in product design. We carefully consider the lightweighting and downgauging of materials with opportunities to increase the recyclability or reusability of products and materials. Through the integration of recycled materials and designing recyclable products, we extend the useful life of materials within our value chain.

In collaboration with our customers and suppliers, we promote the adoption of recycled and recyclable products. For example, our EcoBalance product line incorporates up to 100 percent recycled high-density polyethylene sourced from post-consumer containers. These efforts not only contribute to our circular goals but also empower our customers to achieve their sustainability objectives through environmentally responsible practices.

Greif Centurion without tagline 9.28.23 outlined

Centurion Container Acquisition

In 2023, we increased our ownership in Centurion Container LLC, a leader in North American IBC and plastic drum reconditioning, from 9 percent to 80 percent in an all-cash transaction for $145 million. This acquisition increases our internal PCR production capabilities, reduces our dependencies on external suppliers and will play a critical role in driving our circularity strategies. This acquisition directly supports our third Build to Last mission of Protecting our Future through investments in the circular economy. For more information on our acquisitions, please see the Financial Performance and Profitable Growth section of this report.

We recognize that circularity is also a priority for our customers as they work toward achieving their own sustainability goals. Collaborating with our customers to achieve their needs is also a key focus of our circularity strategy. By integrating recycling services into products and services, we can provide customers with full lifecycle circular solutions, from product design to end-of-life, and expand our business opportunities. As our circularity strategy continues to evolve, we aim to expand our recycling work with customers.

Greif’s LCS network, operating in North America and Europe, collects and reconditions used steel, plastic and IBC rigid packaging products and recovered fiber, making them suitable for reuse and resale. This reduces the demand for raw materials and decreases container disposal in landfills. In 2023, the Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) business reconditioned, remanufactured or recycled 3.7 million containers, while the Recovered Fiber Group (RFG) of our Paper Packaging Services (PPS) business collected 3.2 million metric tons of material for recycling. Of this, our PPS business processed 1.4 million metric tons of recycled fiber to make new products in our production facilities. The remaining material was sold for other companies to use as recycled raw material.

Our customers can receive reports that quantify environmental impact, measuring indicators such as carbon footprint, waste and material savings using our Greif Green Tool and Green Tool Lite. Further details about our circular manufacturing efforts and their impacts on the environment can be found in this report’s Innovation, Waste and Water sections. 

As the regulatory landscape surrounding circularity and waste continues to change, Greif remains vigilant in monitoring these updates. By taking a proactive approach, we help ensure that we are well-prepared to adapt our business practices and support our customers in navigating any regulatory shifts that may impact our business or our customers.

Paper Packaging & Services

Greif operates 15 recycling processing facilities and three supporting facilities within our PPS business, providing comprehensive outsourcing solutions for plastics, pulp and paper fiber procurement, transportation, administration and paper fiber audit and management. The majority of products handled by our recycling business—99 percent by volume—consists of paper fiber that is also recyclable. Our recycling operations collect wastepaper for use in our containerboard mills and for sale to other manufacturers. Approximately 40 percent of collected fiber is utilized in our own manufacturing of paper products, while the remaining 60 percent is sold to external mills and manufacturers for the production of new paperboard and other products. 72 percent of the fiber used in our paper manufacturing is sourced from recycled inputs, making Greif a net positive recycler and a key player in the paper recycling industry.


Global Industrial Packaging

Our GIP business looks for reuse and recycling opportunities wherever possible. On average, more than 90 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 by weight, is reincorporated into our products. We manufacture our steel products from approximately 5 to 35 percent recycled steel depending on the region.

Please see our report’s Global Supply Chain Management, Waste and Innovation sections for more information about how our circular economy strategy is integrated throughout our entire business.

Goals, Progress & Performance

2030 Goals:

  • Make 100 percent of Greif products recyclable1.
  • Achieve an average of 60 percent recycled raw material content across our products2.
  • Recover an average of 80 percent as much material from the market as we ship to the market3.

We have made significant strides toward achieving our 2030 goals, particularly within our PPS business unit. In our PPS division, approximately 99 percent of products are recyclable. Furthermore, PPS products achieved an average recycled raw material content of 72 percent. Notably, our efforts have resulted in us recovering over 150 percent of material from the market than what we ship into it. Within our GIP business unit, we are actively engaged in integrating data from our partners. Our focus is on coding products across various systems to ensure we accurately capture the right products within our systems and monitor progress toward our goals.

Our LCS network provides Greif with access to valuable resources of steel, plastic and paper products that are critical for circularity. We are working toward building a global network of recycling companies to reach our 2030 goals. The recent acquisition of Centurion has played a pivotal role in enhancing our capabilities and expanding our influence in the recycling industry, which will contribute significantly to the achievement of our circularity goals.

To help us achieve our goals, in 2023, we automated circularity data for PPS, with the exception of the PPS Industrial Products Group. We plan to complete the automation for GIP’s circularity data by the end of 2025. This initiative will play a key role in supporting our commitment to operational efficiency and our sustainability goals.

In 2023, we developed a business plan for our Northwestern and Central Europe operations aimed at driving progress toward our 2030 goals. This will focus on sourcing strategies, technological requirements for PCR production, and an expansion of our PCR production and LCS network. The plan was approved by our Executive Leadership Team and outlines key initiatives for 2024, including addressing equipment and personnel needs and exploring potential partnerships. As part of the development of this business plan, a team of leaders from across the business conducted an analysis of trends and regulatory requirements to better understand future PCR demand. With this in mind, they also identified Greif PCR production gaps and developed strategies to address them. We expect that successful initiatives from this effort will scale and expand to other regions as we continue working toward our 2030 timeline.

[1] Working across a vast portfolio of raw materials and products, our recyclability targets will be benchmarked by weight, consolidated at a company level.
[2] Recycled content targets for our products are minimum averages, benchmarked across a portfolio of materials and products by weight, consolidated at a company level.
[3] Recovery targets for Greif products are minimum averages benchmarked across a portfolio of materials and products by weight, consolidated at a company level.

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

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.

Conical Drums
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.

Greif Delta Plastics
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.

Services in Lille
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.

Circular Solution
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