Waste, Recycling & Recovery
Each Greif facility works to remove excess material from the production process and recycle scrap. This aligns with our lean manufacturing culture and transformation plan—making processes more efficient, producing less waste and shipping less waste offsite and to landfills.
We continually make improvements to the way we manage waste from our operations. We evaluate opportunities and introduce measures intended to avoid, reduce or reuse the amount of waste that is created. We examine all aspects of our business for opportunities to eliminate waste including product development, packaging, production, transportation and the recovery and reuse of materials and products.
Divert 90 percent of waste from landfill in North America by the end of fiscal year 2020.
Eight of our RIPS North America facilities achieved waste diversion from landfill of 90 percent or greater, four of which achieved 100 percent diversion from landfill. Since 2012, we have saved more than $457,000 through efficient packaging practices and reduction of offsite transport. For more information about our waste reduction, please see our 2016 Sustainability Report.
Reducing Waste to Landfill in RIPS North America
diversion of waste from landfill achieved by eight facilities in North America.
Zero Waste to Landfill in RIPS North America
diversion of waste from landfill achieved by four facilities in North America.
We incorporate sustainability criteria such as waste minimization and recyclability into product design and development. We view product development in the context of the complete product lifecycle. We are interested in innovations that deliver measurable advancements toward sustainability.
In the Products & Innovation section, you can read about products that have been developed through the implementation of dematerialization strategies and the use of recycled materials to reach our goal of sustainable products.
Our waste minimization efforts in our operations aim to divert recyclable materials, such as scrap metal, wood, cardboard, plastic scrapping and electronic wastes, from entering the landfill. We are also constantly redesigning our processes to reduce the resources required to make our products.
Learn more about what our facilities are doing to minimize waste.
Our Decatur box plant reduced its landfill waste through a three-pronged approach.
- Identify waste that could be recycled
- Source outlets capable of handling their recyclable material
- Limit the use of non-recyclable items
From a baseline of generating 24 tons of waste annually, they identified 16.8 tons of recyclable materials and reduced annual landfill waste by 70 percent.
Our Morgan Hill fibre drum plant has reduced its landfill waste by 57.2 percent since 2012. They accomplished this by:
- Having a strict policy on waste management
- Getting every employee involved and increasing awareness about the importance of waste reduction
- Partnering with local resources
- Continually improving their processes and systems
- Being on the look out for ideas and resources from local and state governments
Our Naperville fibre drum plant has eliminated more than 75 percent of their solid waste through numerous recycling efforts.
Our Riverville containerboard mill has been developing and implementing important waste reduction projects over the last two decades. The Riverville Landfill was placed in operation in January 1992. The original landfill design was based on their then current and anticipated future waste generation rates and resulted in a landfill with a projected life of 24.5 years. They have been operating the landfill for more than 22 years and are not yet 50 percent full. This extended life can be attributed to a number of initiatives at the mill.
- Riverville worked with Virginia Tech to qualify their composted sludge from their wastewater treatment plant as a soil amendment. They now sell all of their approximately 22,000 tons/year of compost that would otherwise have to be disposed of.
- Riverville developed a market for wood ash that is a byproduct of their biomass fuel-burning boiler and completely eliminated this waste stream from their landfill. They sell all of the approximately 8,000 tons/year wood ash as a soil amendment.
- Riverville burns approximately 21,000 tons/year of fiber-laden rejects from their OCC (old corrugated container) plant in the biomass fuel-burning boiler, which would otherwise be disposed of in their landfill.
Recycling & Reconditioning Services
At Greif we believe that it is vital to consider waste minimization through the entire life cycle of a product from its production to the end of its usefulness.
In the middle of the 2000s, we conducted Life Cycle Assessment studies on all of our core products and found out that engineering products to lengthen their useful life via re-use would be the most effective option for improving their environmental performance. At the end of its life, the best use of an industrial container is its re-use. Based on this evaluation, we determined that our core business should include the reconditioning of industrial containers and offering re-usability services for these containers, which is why in 2011 Greif created the world’s largest industrial container reconditioning services through its subsidiary EarthMinded™ Lifecycle Services (LCS).
EarthMinded™ LCS collects, cleans, reshapes, reconditions or remanufactures and tests industrial containers for reuse and recycling, extending the life of the products and responsibly recycling their component raw materials at the end of their life cycles. Through an integrated network, the business provides the most reliable, cost-effective one-stop service possible to member customers who have one site or several in multiple countries. In 2016, more than 4.9 million Greif steel and poly drums and IBCs were reconditioned or recycled.
EarthMinded™ LCS also provides customers with verifiable reports detailing the reduced environmental impact of their industrial packaging entrusted to us. These reports allow our customers to document their achievements and meet the growing demand for more sustainable packaging.
In addition to the knowledge that used industrial packaging is responsibly handled, EarthMinded™ LCS offers savings to customers who want to reduce their total cost of packaging ownership. The collection service provides a practical alternative to storing used industrial packages on site or transporting them for disposal, with the attendant trucking costs and disposal fees. The reconditioning operations generate industrial packaging that is sold at a discount to new packaging and consequently re-introduced into the supply chain. Industrial packaging that cannot be remanufactured or reconditioned is properly recycled.