Sustainability Report 2020

News & Stories

Waste is not to be thrown away

The global population is growing – and with it a rapidly expanding middle class striving for western consumer standards. This development comes against the backdrop of a world with finite resources. Given this, it is clear that we cannot afford to squander our resources in the form of waste. Companies, too, are increasingly realizing that greater fluctuations in the prices of raw materials and growing supply risks for some raw materials are increasingly putting their business fundamentals at risk. So we must ask how waste can be turned into a resource – and in particular if it has the potential to replace these more expensive primary raw materials.

The key to avoiding waste or turning it back into a resource is the “three Rs” of reduce (reduce the need for and/or consumption of raw materials, materials and products), reuse and recycle (extend the life cycle of materials). Waste in this concept is considered a valuable substance. Our aim for materials that we no longer need is for them to be incorporated into a circular economy. In a functioning circular economy, raw materials are used more efficiently and waste is minimized. Nature is the prime example of this, as it does not generate any waste whatsoever.

At Greiner, we apply the EU Waste Framework Directive’s five-step waste hierarchy. It establishes an order of preference for managing and disposing of waste. The European waste hierarchy is defined as follows: prevention, reuse, recycling, recovery and disposal.

Total waste by waste type (t)

Total waste by waste type (bar chart)

At Greiner, our goal is to deal with waste using this pyramid as a way of reducing our environmental impact. Our total waste volume, i.e. the sum of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, has risen by 27 percent since 2018. In absolute terms, this represents an increase of 5,477 tonnes. The sharp rise in hazardous waste in 2020 particularly stands out here. This is due to a stricter/more precise definition of hazardous waste in Europe. 

Razvan Catalinoiu (NEVEON), Technician Thermoforming (photo)

“At Greiner, we apply the EU Waste Framework Directive’s five-step waste hierarchy.”

Razvan Catalinoiu (NEVEON) Technician

The waste picture varies significantly between our divisions. Greiner Bio-One and NEVEON are particularly key drivers of the higher waste volume since 2018 (up 1,461 tonnes / 60 percent and up 4,673 tonnes/ 78 percent respectively). At Greiner Bio-One, this increase chiefly reflects higher production capacities and improved quality of data. At Neveon, the rise results in large part from the Eurofoam takeover. Waste quantities were considerably lower both at Greiner Packaging (down 529 tonnes / 5 percent) and at Greiner Extrusion (down 128 tonnes / 11 percent).

Total waste by waste type for each division (t)

Greiner Bio-One (logo)

 

 

2018

 

2019

 

2020

Greiner Bio-One

 

2,444

 

3,050

 

3,904

Hazardous waste

 

182

 

72

 

324

Non-hazardous waste

 

2,261

 

2,978

 

3,580

Greiner Packaging (logo)

 

 

2018

 

2019

 

2020

Greiner Packaging

 

10,396

 

10,070

 

9,866

Hazardous waste

 

151

 

186

 

364

Non-hazardous waste

 

10,245

 

9,884

 

9,503

NEVEON (logo)

 

 

2018

 

2019

 

2020

NEVEON

 

5,956

 

7,236

 

10,630

Hazardous waste

 

59

 

75

 

305

Non-hazardous waste

 

5,898

 

7,160

 

10,324

Greiner Extrusion (logo)

 

 

2018

 

2019

 

2020

Greiner Extrusion

 

1,188

 

1,130

 

1,060

Hazardous waste

 

100

 

70

 

52

Non-hazardous waste

 

1,088

 

1,060

 

1,008

Breakdown of non-hazardous waste (t)

Breakdown of non-hazardous waste (bar chart)

Looking at the development of the disposal types of non-hazardous and hazardous waste, it is particularly positive to note that the amount of waste for which the disposal method is unknown has been greatly reduced. This means that we have a much better idea of how our waste is disposed of. This also creates an awareness of where we are in terms of achieving our goals. The increase in the amount of waste sent to landfill (+480 tonnes / +28 percent) in the last three years is almost equal to the total rise in waste (+27 percent) and so the share of waste sent to landfill remains unchanged at nine percent. This means that we have to address the 2,212 tonnes and find solutions to completely avoid sending any waste to landfill. Good data is a first step in the right direction to achieving this. Knowing what happens to our waste is a key concern at Greiner. On an even more positive note, we reduced the amount of waste for which the disposal method is unknown by almost six percent between 2018 and 2020.

Total waste by disposal method (t)1

Total waste by disposal method (bar chart)
1 Waste disposal was defined by the sites themselves in three ways: The sites dispose of their waste themselves, get information from the waste disposal service provider regarding the waste treatment or standard organizational methods of the waste disposal service providers are known.
2 “Disposal method unknown” refers to those waste methods where no facts are known regarding its disposal.
Catalin Sirbu (Greiner Packaging), Technician Thermoforming (photo)
Catalin Sirbu (Greiner Packaging) Technician
Non-hazardous waste by disposal method (t)

 

 

2019

 

2020

Greiner Bio-One

 

2,978

 

3,580

Recycling

 

1,682

 

2,082

Thermal recovery

 

772

 

839

Landfilling

 

196

 

183

Unknown

 

328

 

477

Greiner Packaging

 

9,884

 

9,503

Recycling

 

4,443

 

6,168

Thermal recovery

 

512

 

531

Landfilling

 

625

 

773

Unknown

 

4,303

 

2,031

NEVEON

 

7,160

 

10,324

Recycling

 

641

 

1,303

Thermal recovery

 

4,800

 

6,719

Landfilling

 

976

 

1,162

Unknown

 

744

 

1,141

Greiner Extrusion

 

1,060

 

1,008

Recycling

 

862

 

803

Thermal recovery

 

112

 

127

Landfilling

 

42

 

70

Unknown

 

45

 

8

Total

 

21,082

 

24,415

Hazardous waste by disposal method (t)

 

 

2019

 

2020

Greiner Bio-One

 

72

 

324

Recycling

 

4

 

4

Thermal recovery

 

3

 

282

Landfilling

 

16

 

24

Unknown

 

48

 

14

Greiner Packaging

 

186

 

364

Recycling

 

44

 

222

Thermal recovery

 

26

 

48

Landfilling

 

0

 

0

Unknown

 

116

 

93

NEVEON

 

75

 

305

Recycling

 

15

 

22

Thermal recovery

 

38

 

99

Landfilling

 

0

 

0

Unknown

 

23

 

184

Greiner Extrusion

 

70

 

52

Recycling

 

0

 

0

Thermal recovery

 

3

 

2

Landfilling

 

0

 

0

Unknown

 

67

 

49

Total

 

403

 

1,045

Our second waste-related goal is to increase the share of recycled waste and – as of 2020 – to establish a quantitative goal. A look at the data shows why this is important. The proportion of total waste that is recycled has declined slightly since 2018 to about 42 percent at present across Greiner. While more waste has been recycled in absolute terms since 2018, there has been no significant change in proportionate terms. Increased waste at Neveon is primarily due to incorporating Eurofoam.

We calculated the emissions generated by our operational waste for the first time in 2020. These came to a total of 8,608 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. This calculated emissions based on the waste categories and the type of disposal. For example, waste sent to landfill has a higher emission factor than waste that is recycled or incinerated. This way, the following picture emerges:

Waste emissions (t CO2e)

Waste emissions (pie chart)

In a world where resources are in short supply, it is essential that we change our relationship to waste. Just like in nature, there is no waste in a circular economy. In a circular economy, what we call waste becomes the starting point for new materials and products. The ultimate aim of sustainability is thus to definitively eliminate waste. This is why we have formed a close partnership with cirplus as a pilot partner. cirplus is the global marketplace for recycled materials and plastic waste and aims to ease the transition to a new circular business model. Its goal is to take waste for what it is – a valuable resource. On cirplus, companies can buy and sell plastic waste as a resource. This is how we intend to recycle more of our waste. By 2022, we are also planning an environmental and waste policy that puts waste disposal and waste prevention at its heart.

CO2
The chemical notation for carbon dioxide, a key component of the global carbon cycle. It is a gas that is naturally present in the Earth’s atmosphere and absorbs and reflects some of the heat emitted from the planet. Human activity massively increases the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, magnifying this greenhouse effect and resulting in global warming.
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Circular economy
The circular economy is a model for production and consumption where existing materials and products are shared, reused, repaired, reprocessed and recycled for as long as possible. This prolongs the life cycle of products.
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Extrusion
Based on the Latin “extrudere”, meaning “to push out”, extrusion describes a process where the solid to viscous, hardenable masses are continuously pressed out of a molding opening (known as a nozzle, die or mouthpiece). This creates bodies with the cross-section of the opening, known as extrudate, theoretically of any length.
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Life cycle
A basic model of the product life cycle defines five phases that a product passes through from market launch to eventual market exit: Introduction, growth, maturity, saturation and decline. The duration of a cycle depends largely on factors such as quality and the supplier’s innovation.
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Primary raw materials
Primary raw materials are natural, unprocessed resources extracted from nature. They include wood, wool, crude oil, iron ore and coal (see also secondary raw materials).
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