Corporate Social Responsibility – Environmental Pillar

Sustainability at Great Northern

Since day one, Great Northern has been an industry leader in the development and manufacturing of sustainable packaging. Our approach to sustainability focuses on designing every component of a product package or retail display in an environmentally responsible way – including the types and amount of materials used, the processes employed in production, and the methods of transport and delivery.

We have an internal focus centered on process improvement, with a commitment to invest in equipment and practices that reduce the amount of energy, natural resources and waste required to operate our businesses. For those who do business with us, we have a customer-based focus to design and engineer products that utilize less material and are produced with more eco-friendly processes, ultimately reducing the impact our packaging has on the environment.

The results mean delivering to our customers packaging and display solutions that have equal or better performance in the supply chain, improved outcomes on sustainability scorecards and have the potential for cost reduction.

Aligned with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) principles, our first annual report will cover the areas of energy consumption, water usage, local accidental pollution and emissions, materials, and waste, product end of life, transportation, and sustainable products and processes.

A commitment to our planet makes us more efficient for our clients. In June 2022, our Belvidere facility implemented a solar array installation as part of Great Northern’s focus on renewable energy. The project was completed on time and is running, making our Belvidere location the first company in the area to have solar panels. The project included 928 340-watt panels. This will allow our facility to generate 84% of all their electrical needs. In addition to the panels, we have also installed a SolarEdge monitoring portal which will allow us to view how each module is performing in real-time. This will allow us to monitor and ensure we are at full optimization with each individual panel. In 2009, our Chicago facility installed 1,430 solar panels. It is with the great success of that project, that led us to the installation in Belvidere with our second location. In addition to the renewable energy that it supplies and the reduction of our carbon footprint, the solar panels also prove to be financially responsible. With our accelerated payback, we will recoup the cost in under four years, with a gain on investment moving forward.


Local & Accidental Pollution - Emissions

Great Northern manufacturing facilities meet all applicable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state, and local environmental rules and regulations to minimize our impact to the air, soil and water. Great Northern manufacturing facilities employ good housekeeping practices that have been designed to maintain a clean and orderly work environment. Team members are trained annually on spill response procedures.

To protect the local communities in which we operate, Great Northern strictly follows the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act reporting thresholds for any hazardous chemicals that may be used.

With policies and procedures in place, our annual goal is to achieve zero non-conformances.


Materials and Waste

One of our core values at Great Northern is our dedication to a Shared Future. This involves taking care of our team members as well as our community. Great Northern engages our entire supply chain to ensure our customers receive accurate product safety and compliance information in a timely manner. The purpose of this policy is to ensure all products supplied to our customers meet all regulatory requirements for the markets we serve. It also ensures that customers receive timely responses to chemicals and product standards that are important to their downstream customers.

To accomplish this, we monitor applicable regulations and maintain a database of regulations applicable to the markets we serve. Annually, we request compliance letters from our end-product suppliers on relevant materials, and suppliers unable to meet applicable regulatory requirements will be replaced.


Product End-of-Life

All paperboard used in Great Northern’s corrugated packaging products is recyclable with the exception of our wax-coated corrugated products. Additional information may be requested for any non-paper substrate or component that is ordered through Great Northern. Corrugate, according to the Fibre Box Association, has had a recycling rate hovering near 90% for the past nine years. With this success, corrugated box fibers that are recycled are used 7-10 times to make new boxes and other paper products.

Steel, the main material in our permanent retail displays, is also 100% recyclable and our Chicago facility recycles 100% of its steel scrap. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, it is the most recycled material in the world. Each ton of steel recycled conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore and 1,400 pounds of coal



Working with our internal logistics partner, the Great Northern team has successfully implemented several initiatives that have enabled us to improve our logistics through more efficient routing, better cube utilization of trailers and fewer empty hauls. One critical element of this program has been analyzing the patterns of shipments traveling between our facilities. In addition, optimizing our backhauls from our Twin Cities location has had a material impact toward achieving a 500,000 mile reduction of empty trailers.

The results have added up: efforts have enabled us to use 40,000 less gallons of fuel each year. The efforts continue. Our logistics partner is planning on adding carbon capture devices on the fleet that can capture approximately 80% of a rig’s carbon dioxide emissions. Adding the device to one truck is the equivalent of planting 6,200 trees, a great step toward further reducing our environmental footprint


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Great Expectations

Great Expectations is more than a tagline, it is an attitude. At Great Northern, customer challenges are met by an undying spirit to doing what others can’t or won’t. It’s in our DNA. And it is what our customers have come to expect with Great Northern.

How can we exceed your expectations?