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


  • Greif’s approach to innovation encourages all parts of the company to participate in transforming our product portfolio and organizational processes.
  • We evaluate, prioritize and elevate projects based on potential financial return, sustainability impact and overall value to Greif and our customers.
  • In 2023, Greif had more than $822 million in revenue from sustainability-tagged products from our Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) business and life cycle services offered by our Paper Packaging & Services (PPS) and GIP businesses.

Why Innovation Matters

GRI: 3-3
Management of material topics

Innovation at Greif helps to drive our organizational mission and is crucial in addressing customers’ operational challenges and packaging needs. Our focus on product innovation aligns with several missions of our Build to Last Strategy. For example, our Protecting Our Future mission comes to life in developing new, more sustainable products and services that ultimately help advance a low-carbon and circular economy future. As part of our Creating Thriving Communities mission, we prioritize colleague safety and safeguard customer health through the continual advancement of process innovation.


Greif’s approach to innovation encourages all parts of the company to participate in transforming our product portfolio and organizational processes. Our Global Innovation Team is made up of representatives from each business unit. Led by the Director of Sustainable Innovation, the team facilitates a cohesive and collaborative environment for idea-sharing and cross-enterprise collaboration. Our In-House Entrepreneur Program establishes a coordinated approach for colleagues at all levels to contribute ideas and foster innovation. Quarterly project reviews are held with the Executive Leadership Team and the Board of Directors to communicate updates on innovation priorities and industry trends that can impact our business.

At the end of 2023, the Director of Sustainable Innovation began reporting through Greif’s Global Operations Group, enhancing connectivity with cross-functional teams and providing expanded resources for project implementation.

greif sustainable innovation strategy graphic

Colleague Engagement in Innovation

Our Sustainability Innovation Strategy strives to inspire colleagues to reach their dreams through innovation. We believe a company culture of innovation fosters a dynamic and engaging work environment, encouraging creative problem-solving and continuous learning for our colleagues. Our In-House Entrepreneur Program empowers Greif colleagues to generate and implement innovations that meet customer demands for sustainability, improve Greif's processes and expand our business to new markets. In 2023, the program was allocated a budget for experimenting with and testing colleague ideas. Approximately 90 percent of innovations in the program have sustainability benefits.

In 2023, we introduced our Innovator of the Month recognition program to acknowledge and celebrate colleagues who contribute significantly to our innovation initiatives.

Greif’s sustainable packaging solutions are developed using eight environmental, social and financial criteria and focus on the principles of circularity and dematerialization. Working with customers, we create products that meet required performance and safety standards while minimizing environmental impacts through design features such as lightweighting, incorporating recycled raw materials and designing for recyclability and reduced emissions. Our innovation strategy takes a holistic approach and assesses projects based on financial returns, sustainability impact and overall value to Greif and our customers.


Greif Green Tool and Greif Green Tool Lite

The Greif Green Tool and Greif Green Tool Lite help us collaborate with customers on sustainability. The Greif Green Tool, a flexible calculator based on ISO 14040/14044 standards and independent life cycle analysis of Greif Global Industrial Packaging products, provides customers with valuable insights into the impacts of packaging, transportation and product end-of-life scenarios on greenhouse gas emissions. Customers can create environmental baselines and compare different options to support more sustainable decision-making and help them meet their goals. Additionally, the Greif Green Tool Lite, designed in response to increased customer demand, offers more efficient access to carbon footprint and reduction metrics for our top-selling intermediate bulk containers, drum products and jerrycans. Continual updates and incorporation of our latest product information ensures the tool's data and classifications remain current.

Our innovation priorities continuously adapt to each business unit’s unique needs and customers. Within our GIP business, ongoing efforts focus on implementing sustainable product projects to reduce material use. Innovative ideas are explored to address factors such as carbon footprint reduction, environmental impact minimization, incorporation of recycled raw materials and efficient raw material utilization.

In our PPS business, we collaborate with customers to create innovative, sustainable solutions. Our core development and strategy teams meet monthly to review progress and associated challenges of innovation projects, while our Innovation Team meets quarterly to monitor progress against our innovation objectives. Our efforts focus on reducing single-use plastic and non-recyclable products through recycled material-based alternatives and eliminating plastic via our barrier coatings. Recycled inputs and compostable paperboard products, such as food-grade packaging and EasyPour® construction cores, minimize carbon footprints, deliver cost savings and expand our presence in new markets. Additionally, our new Environmentally Smart (ES) Natural product has replaced a virgin fiber-based product in the construction industry. In FY23, ES Natural replaced 2,965 U.S. tons of virgin raw materials.

Innovation is also an important part of how we protect the health and safety of our colleagues and the consumers who use our products. Our Innovation Team collaborates closely with colleagues at various plants to develop transformative solutions or implement technology to make processes safer. For example, we are testing a virtual reality safety training program for colleagues to practice safety actions without risking injury or harm.

Goals, Progress & Performance

As innovation continues to drive our circularity efforts and product development, we are concentrating on post-consumer resin products and reconditioning to advance the circular economy. (For more information on our circularity initiatives, please see the Circular Manufacturing section of this report.) Additionally, we have increased our attention on plastic treatment to find alternatives to potential PFAS-generating technologies currently in use and to improve product safety.

In addition, innovation also has a role to play in customer service. We are actively working to improve our products by collaborating with internal and external customers. To support future collaboration, the Global Innovation Team plans to enhance proactive customer engagement by working with Greif’s commercial teams and increasing customer site visits. We aim to gain firsthand insights into unmet customer needs to inform our innovation strategies.

In 2023, Greif had more than $822 million in revenue from sustainability-tagged products from GIP and life cycle services offered by our GIP and PPS businesses.

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
Previous slide
Next slide