Social commitment as matter of course
“No man is an island”. Long ago, this was how the English baroque poet John Donne neatly summed up humankind’s and society’s solidarity and need to depend on each other across the ages. No man lives for himself; the coronavirus pandemic and its global impact has clearly demonstrated this once again. Greiner has always seen social responsibility as a matter of course. We believe that sustainable actions and social responsibility are simply part and parcel of doing business. Our main priority here is not simply to polish up our image. Our social commitment is based on an understanding that we are a part of the society in which we work and produce. In John Donne’s words, we see ourselves as part of a bigger picture, not as an island. At the heart of our social commitment is our responsibility to society, setting a positive example, promoting and initiating important improvements and standing up for sustainable business practices generally. We demonstrate this solidarity firstly in how we treat our employees and secondly in how we support selected regional projects and projects in communities where our company has an international presence.
“We believe that sustainable actions and social responsibility are simply part and parcel of doing business.”
All sponsoring and donation inquiries in Austria are handled by our group headquarters to ensure that the available funds are used to maximum effect. Inquiries about support must comply with our relevant policies. As a minimum, for approval to be granted the projects looking for support must meet our four principles of regionality, sustainability, transparency and sector exclusivity. This means that we focus our social commitment on the area of the respective business activity. In Austria, this is primarily the Kremstal region and surrounding areas, where we see ourselves chiefly as partners to the area’s inhabitants. We stand for sustainable actions and resource conservation across all of our divisions and sites. Accordingly, we lend our support primarily to sustainable requests, i.e. those that create value in the long term and constitute an environmental and social benefit to society. In addition, we exclusively donate to or sponsor projects and/or events by natural persons, legal entities and associations that are transparent and clearly used for the intended purpose. It is essential that the sponsorship itself and the consideration agreed beforehand are documented. We also aim to use sponsorships and donations to play an active role in sustainably developing society and solving the global challenges of our time. Last but not least, investments in education and science are not only part of our social responsibility, they are also crucial to the continuation of our society. Helping young people develop is therefore of utmost importance to us and so we are delighted to support selected educational initiatives and educational institutions.
Our social commitment is varied and, above all, sizable. Accordingly, this report represents only a selection of projects that are particularly close to our hearts and that we set up in the reporting period. We assume that due to the pandemic the number of supported projects decreased last year.
Tackling educational inequality through Teach for Austria
Educational opportunity is now more dependent than ever on pupils’ background and parental home. This is why Greiner supports Teach for Austria. This non-profit Austrian educational initiative aims to provide access to excellent education for more pupils and create a national movement to solve educational inequality. Greiner has supported this educational initiative since 2016. Greiner has since been promoted to a Gold Partner of Teach for Austria and joined the organization’s advisory board. It expanded the Teach for Austria educational program into the state of Upper Austria and was key to supporting the creation of the first year of fellows. It is natural that the focus is on this region, as that is where Greiner’s headquarters are located. CEO Alex Kühner regularly teaches as a visiting fellow at a polytechnic, a sign of how seriously Greiner takes its social responsibility. Kühner’s lessons focus on raising awareness of plastic and he prepares pupils for the application process in a practical context and motivates them to work hard and persevere. During a visit to the Greiner headquarters in Kremsmünster, pupils also have the opportunity to visit the training workshops there. There is a possibility – and in fact we would expressly welcome this – that some of them will think about completing an apprenticeship and subsequently starting a career at Greiner.
30,000 trees planted to protect the climate
Our 150th company anniversary in 2018 was not only an opportunity to look back to our past with pride, it was also a time to send a strong message about climate action for the future. Since 2018, we have therefore been planting one tree a year for all of our employees with and for the Plant for the Planet child and youth initiative. We have since planted over 30,000 trees on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. Our trees help reforest the forests there that had been chopped down and degraded. The new, health forest helps store CO2, provides raw materials in the long term and creates jobs. In 2020, another 10,735 trees were added to our Greiner climate protection forest and this is not the end: we are continuing to plant more!
Felix Finkbeiner, a nine-year-old (!) from Bavaria, founded the Plant for the Planet initiative in 2007. Together with its partners, the non-profit organization has since planted more than ten billion trees around the world. The ambitious objective of this initiative, also known as the Trillion Tree Campaign, is to plant one trillion new trees worldwide, increase the global tree population by 30 percent and therefore capture about a quarter of the CO2 emissions currently generated by people. Felix Finkbeiner was also a guest on our Greiner Talks podcast. “Don’t spend ages talking about it, do something” was his message. He is convinced that the only way we can solve the climate crisis is through fundamental changes and large-scale action. We at Greiner share this opinion.
Helping with the difficult task of finding stem cell donors
For over 20 years, the non-profit association “Geben für Leben – Leukämiehilfe Österreich” (Give for Life – Leukemia Support Austria) has aimed to convince people to participate in lifesaving stem cell donations. This gives seriously ill people a chance at life. Greiner Bio-One, our division that produces blood collection tubes and many other medical supplies and laboratory equipment for users and scientists has made it its duty to support Geben für Leben. Finding suitable stem cell donors is exceptionally difficult. The chances of finding someone outside the family are between one to five hundred thousand and up to several million. Greiner Bio-One helps the association fund stem cell typing and organize typing campaigns to persuade as many people as possible to donate across the world. Cheek swabs or blood samples are used for stem cell typing. Greiner Bio-One also provides its products for this.
Plastic visor donations to support children’s cancer charity “Kinder-Krebs-Hilfe”
Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic began, Greiner Assistec provided its new Greiner visor, a high-quality face protection for various occupational groups. The face shield provides maximum protection against all liquids and droplets. Greiner employees, as well as numerous associations and organizations in the regional vicinity of Greiner in Upper Austria, were given the plastic shields to protect against Covid-19 free of charge or in exchange for a voluntary donation. This fundraising raised 7,142 euros. Greiner Packaging rounded this figure up to 10,000 euros. With work to combat other serious illnesses increasingly falling by the wayside as a result of pandemic, we decided to use these donations to support the Upper Austrian children’s cancer charity “Kinder-Krebs-Hilfe” at the end of 2020/start of 2021.
Development aid for clean drinking water in Malawi
Decent access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation – this is what the relief organization Viva con Agua Austria is committed to providing with the help of a network of musicians, artists and activists, and supported by NEVEON. As part of what are known as “WASH” projects at schools in the global south, primarily in Malawi and Uganda, drinking water and sanitary facilities infrastructure is built. WASH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene, the three components of water-related development aid projects. Working together with school administrators and the local community, Viva con Agua creates a safe drinking water supply and builds toilets and changing rooms for menstruating women and girls so that they can continue to attend school while on their period. This also raises awareness and pupils can act as “knowledge multipliers” within their families and communities. To ensure inclusive access, the wells are also available as a supply of drinking water to the surrounding communities, as well as to teachers and pupils. Before handing in the project, WASH committees are formed comprising teachers, pupils and residents, who take on responsibility for hygiene training and facility maintenance once the project has been completed. Water as a resource is of vital importance to NEVEON and cannot be taken for granted, and so it supports the WASH projects of Viva con Agua in Malawi.
Support for refugees and asylum seekers in India
As a global company, we do not turn a blind eye to global challenges. This was one of the reasons Greiner Extrusion chose to support the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR in 2020 for advisory and support centers in the Indian city of New Delhi. These centers help about 19,000 refugees every year. The focus is on supporting people with special needs, protecting children, providing access to education, language classes and healthcare and promoting peaceful coexistence between refugees and locals. Since the start of the Covid pandemic, the centers have also distributed additional food rations and provided sanitary materials and hygiene kits for women and girls.
South Africa: Schooling for children with special needs
The Bloom Special Needs School in South Africa teaches and looks after the special needs of children with Down’s Syndrome, autism, lower IQs or serious learning difficulties. The center in Eden Village, located on the Dolphin Coast 50 kilometers north east of the city of Durban, offers these children a mainstream preschool program. By doing so, the Bloom educational establishment plays a key role in integrating these children and helps reduce the stigma of being different and inferiority. Operating and maintaining the school relies heavily on donations. Our Neveon site in South Africa has supported the school financially for five years, making a substantial contribution to helping these children find a suitable place and adequate care that caters to their particular needs.
Equipment for Covid-19 emergency medical areas in Upper Austria
In April 2020, Grenier provided 1,000 mattresses for the Red Cross in Upper Austria. These were used to kit out emergency medical areas and medical assembly points needed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. The mattress cores produced by subsidiary Eurofoam were provided as direct assistance at a time when all hands on deck were needed in light of the exceptional public health circumstances.
Northern Ireland: Food aid during the Covid-19 crisis
During the pandemic, employees in the British National Health Service, from old people’s and nursing homes to many other key workers in local communities, had to cope with the detrimental effects of Covid-19 on their work. Greiner Packaging in the Northern Irish city of Dungannon was informed of the difficulties faced by local hospitals and other establishments. To provide rapid assistance, it bought tee, coffee, hot chocolate and porridge and delivered these to the kitchens at these workplaces so that employees could take a break. Greiner also supported local relief organizations by providing food packages for the most disadvantaged people in the region.
Financial assistance for hospitals in Romania
During the Covid pandemic, our Greiner Assistec site in Leresti supported two local hospitals in the Câmpulung region, providing around 10,000 euros in financial aid for much needed protective equipment. We firmly believe that helping people in the local communities around us is the least we can do in these tough times.