Greif’s Commitment to Product Quality and Sustainability
Throughout its corporate history, Greif, Inc., has maintained a firm commitment to the quality of its products and the sustainability of its practices.
Greif’s initial success stemmed from its ability to craft high-quality products to meet its customers’ needs, such as barrels that could transport heavy railroad materials to remote build sites. This focus on product quality continued to fuel Greif’s success throughout the 1900s.
Today, Greif continues to undertake initiatives to improve the performance of its industrial containers, using a multi-faceted quality management system to identify potential problems at critical stages in the manufacturing process. The company also uses targeted initiatives to rectify specific issues, such as leaks.
Greif has also instituted major programs that intend to promote environmental sustainability. As a large-scale manufacturer, the company has internalized its responsibility to limit its environmental impact, so it has introduced various programs to reduce its emissions, water usage, and waste.
The following sections will discuss Greif’s commitments to product quality and sustainability, the programs it has used to promote those priorities, and the results of those initiatives.
Greif’s Commitment to Product Quality
In the industrial packaging industry, companies must produce quality products that meet rigorous storage standards in order to succeed.
Industrial containers often hold volatile materials, such as corrosive chemicals or temperature-sensitive goods, so companies that make them must take care to ensure that their products meet industry regulations and can withstand heavy use.
Since Greif’s founding in 1877, the company has aimed to create high-quality products to meet its customers’ industrial packaging needs. In fact, Greif first became successful by crafting barrels sturdy enough to carry railroad spikes across the country.
This focus on product quality made Greif a successful company, and today, Greif continues to prioritize making containers that meet or exceed industry standards. To accomplish this, Greif has implemented specific programs to ensure that all of the containers that they produce satisfy customers’ industrial packaging needs.
Greif’s Product Quality Management System
Greif uses a complex quality management system called Greif QS to ensure that all of its products meet rigorous industry and internal standards. The primary goal of Greif QS is to use control points in the manufacturing process to identify and correct potential defects before a product reaches a customer or otherwise negatively impacts Greif’s business.
This system consists of applications and procedures used to track consistency and quality throughout the company’s various production facilities. These apply to areas such as:
- Supplier management.
- Audit management.
- Internal corrective action.
- Defect prevention.
- Training management.
- Complaint response.
Through Greif QS, facilities can report potential quality issues, allowing Greif to take corrective action and communicate that action to all relevant parties. This system also logs recurring product quality problems, which allows Greif to internally audit its practices and facilities to isolate the source of a particular issue or defect.
While Greif QS has proven to be an effective tool to enhance product quality, the company constantly seeks to improve its functions, so it introduced a Quality Management System scorecard to evaluate the system’s performance. This allows Greif to make the system more efficient and effective.
Greif also has a handful of supplemental systems to ensure product quality. For instance, the company has developed a corrective action tool meant to identify the root causes of complaints or defects, and it also has a Management of Change tool to oversee how changes in suppliers, materials, or other factors may impact manufacturing or cause potential problems.
Reviews and Results
Overall, Greif’s continuous improvements to its quality management system have successfully improved the company’s customer satisfaction and product performance.
To measure its performance in the realm of product quality, Greif primarily uses two indicators – its corrective action rate and total number of customer complaints. It also uses its order reliability percentage to monitor its performance.
Over the past four fiscal years, Greif’s corrective action rate has consistently dropped by .3 each year, and its rate of order reliability has steadily increased. Most significantly, Greif’s total customer complaints fell by nearly half in a period of four years. In 2014, Greif had a total of 672 customer complaints, but by 2018, that number dropped to 350.
In addition to Greif’s consistent overall improvement in product quality, the company has also successfully implemented targeted initiatives to enhance its performance. Greif’s Zero-Leak Program, for example, isolated manufacturing defects that resulted in leaks, and after the company fully implemented the program, it saw a 67% reduction in leak complaints.
Greif’s Focus on Sustainability
As the global climate crisis intensifies, manufacturing companies like Greif have aimed to become better international citizens by prioritizing environmentally-conscious sustainability initiatives.
Manufacturing businesses often struggle with their environmental footprints due to the nature of their activities. Transforming raw materials into usable goods requires large amounts of energy and resources, and byproducts can negatively impact the communities surrounding manufacturing facilities. For that reason, Greif has pledged to actively take steps to reduce its emissions and improve its environmental impact.
Greif’s Sustainability Strategies
Greif has adopted a number of strategies to promote sustainable growth and environmental welfare, and the company has established an Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) department to execute those plans.
First, Greif has aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting energy efficiency throughout the company, and its goal is to reduce both emissions and energy consumption by 10% from 2014 to 2020. This program thus incentivizes facilities to use more energy-efficient practices and purchase their energy from renewable sources.
Greif also aims to reduce its water consumption by using its water more efficiently, and it has developed internal water treatment plans to purify the water that it must use in the course of business.
Third, the company has established a Global Waste Team to lessen the amount of trash its operations produce. This task force has improved the company’s recycling programs and manufacturing practices to divert as much waste as possible from landfills.
To further reduce its environmental impact, Greif has also taken steps to ensure that its raw materials come from ethical and sustainable sources. Greif’s EHS team frequently works with suppliers to improve their sustainability programs, and the company will only work with suppliers that share its values.
Finally, to ensure that the company remains in compliance with national and international laws and regulations, Greif has instituted a Compliance Management System to monitor its facilities and perform environmental audits when necessary.
Results and Progress
Given Greif’s intense commitment to environmentalism, the company’s sustainability initiatives have largely succeeded, and it takes corrective action when its facilities fall short of their goals.
In the realm of greenhouse gas emissions, Greif has received an A- from the Carbon Disclosure Project, an organization that encourages businesses to reduce their carbon footprints, and the company has reduced its overall emissions by more than 10% – exceeding its original goal. Greif has not yet met its consumption goals, and it is using third-party auditors to determine ways to decrease energy usage in its facilities.
Likewise, Greif has already exceeded its goal to reduce its demand for water, and its waste management efforts have been similarly successful. In fact, the vast majority of its facilities divert over 90% of their waste from landfills.
Greif’s efforts to improve the environmental impact of its supply chain are still ongoing, but thus far, it has established criteria to identify environmentally-friendly substitutions for oil-based products and to evaluate the sustainability of current and potential suppliers.
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