Author: Alexander Berth

Our ecological footprint – and how we are going to reduce it

In a three-part series, we look into Greiner’s current sustainability performance. Here in detail: Greiner’s carbon footprint in 2021 and the measures we are using to improve it.

2.5 million metric tons of CO2. It sounds like a lot. And it is. This is the quantity of carbon dioxide that Greiner causes worldwide both directly and indirectly, for example with its products. It is roughly equivalent to the CO2 produced by Montenegro each year. And the CO2 clock keeps on ticking. If we want to make sure that the planet “only” heats up by 1.5 degrees Celsius – and not more – then we only have seven years left. Then the global CO2 budget for the 1.5-degree target will be used up, and we will have to do business on a climate-neutral basis. Otherwise, global warming could reach levels of 2.5 degrees or more – with fatal consequences for all life that coexists on this planet.

"We are very conscious of our enormous ecological footprint and the associated responsibility. We must do our utmost to become climate-neutral in our sphere of influence by 2030."

Axel Kühner, CEO, Greiner AG

The Blue Plan as a framework for action

In the context of the climate crisis, Greiner initiated a fundamental transformation for more sustainability in all divisions in 2020. The framework for this is provided by the Blue Plan, our sustainability strategy. We are committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement and will do our part to help achieve them.

No sustainability without transparency

To find out whether our measures are successful, we are monitoring the effects of our transformation very closely. The sustainability data for 2021 is now available, enabling us to see what has now been achieved – and where we still need to take action. We are releasing this information because we believe that sustainability can work only with transparency. This also relates to our goals, which are set out in the Blue Plan. We will tighten these further and convert them into science-based targets by the end of the year. Science-based targets are emissions goals aligned with the targets for achieving the Paris Agreement.

"We are providing transparency as to where we currently stand on our path to sustainability – including what may be uncomfortable truths for us."

Stefan Grafenhorst, Global Head of Sustainability & Corporate Affairs, Greiner AG

Direct emissions reduced

With regard to Greiner’s total emissions of 2.5 million metric tons per year, we differentiate between Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions in accordance with the international standard (see box below: Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions – what are they?). Greiner reduced its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 34% in 2021 as against 2018. By 2030, we intend to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions in the Group by 53% compared to the figure from 2018. So there is still a lot of work to do. At the same time, it is worth mentioning the performance of the packaging division, which reduced its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 20% or 23,500 metric tons of CO2 compared to 2020, i.e. within a year.

Indirect emissions account for the lion’s share

The lion’s share (94% or 2.3 million metric tons in CO2 equivalents) of our total emissions is attributable to Scope 3 emissions. More aspects were included in the calculation for 2021, so a comparison with the previous year would not be constructive. The emissions for 2021 have been reviewed by KPMG Austria GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungs- und Steuerberatungsgesellschaft in accordance with ISAE 3410 standards, using the limited assurance approach.

Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions – what are they?

In calculating our ecological footprint, we differentiate between Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from the company’s own facilities, while Scope 2 emissions include purchased electricity, steam, heat, and cooling that result in indirect emissions outside a company. Scope 3 emissions cover all other indirect emissions generated as a result of activities outside the company such as manufacturing and transporting purchased goods and distributing, using, and disposing of own goods. In 2021, we calculated our Scope 3 emissions comprehensively for the first time.

"Our future lies with the green alternatives, not oil and gas."

Axel Kühner, CEO, Greiner AG

Global share of green electricity increased to 35%

In order to reduce our – currently still enormous – ecological footprint, we are working hard on many different aspects throughout the Group. One of the key measures with regard to production is that we are switching to electricity from renewable energy worldwide. Since July 2019, all Austrian Greiner sites have been supplied with 100% certified green electricity. The global share has increased from 26% in 2020 to 35% in 2021. By 2030, 90% of the electricity Greiner needs worldwide will come from renewable sources – with Greiner even producing some of this itself from photovoltaic plants. We slightly increased our self-produced electricity between 2020 and 2021 (from 0.11% to 0.13%), but in order to achieve our target of 1.5% by 2025 we will definitely need to implement further measures here. That applies here and for all of our areas if we want to tackle the climate crisis successfully.

You will soon be able to read in this blog about our sustainability performance with regard to the circular economy and the people at Greiner. Do you have any comments or questions? You can contact us here.

Portrait Alexander Berth


Alexander Berth

Sustainability Communications Manager Greiner AG