Sustaining Our Environment

At Grainger, we are committed to conducting business in an environmentally responsible manner, while working to reduce energy use and minimize waste in our operations. To do so most effectively, we focus on the environmental challenges within the material parts of our business: our operations, our products and our supply chain.


Climate Change Disclosure    We recognize that climate change is a significant global issue. The company is taking steps to more effectively manage its energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Grainger has participated in the CDP since 2009, providing detail on business risks and opportunities related to climate change. In 2012, we became the first industrial distributor to publicly disclose its carbon footprint.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We are committed to the global effort to reduce GHG. We focus our reduction strategy around two specific areas: reducing GHG intensity and waste in our own operations and supporting emissions reduction in our supply chain through increases in transparency. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy.

Scope 1 and 2     We chose 2011 as our baseline year, in which emissions totaled 142,306 metric tons. During that period, we have reduced Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by nearly 10 percent. In 2016, our Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions were 128,572 metric tons. To help offset these emissions, we participate in green energy procurement.

Scope 1 & Scope 2 Emissions with Intensity

Grainger’s intensity metric includes the GHG emissions from operations that were under direct operational control as of 2014, the year our goal was set. This includes Grainger, Inc. in the U.S., Grainger Mexico and Acklands-Grainger in Canada. Starting in 2015, Grainger improved its calculations to include all business within operational control after 2014. We verified only our U.S. data through a third party in 2011. Therefore our Base Year calculations include estimates for Acklands-Grainger and Grainger Mexico. We calculated these estimates using the average of 2012 and 2013.

Intensity Target     In 2013, Grainger became the first industrial distributor to set a GHG reduction goal. Our target is an intensity goal for GHG over revenue: to reduce our North American Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions per unit revenue 33 percent by 2020. The goal was designed to be achievable, yet challenge our operations to identify innovative ways to operate more efficiently. We are currently more than half way to our goal, and have reduced intensity to 14.7, a 20 percent reduction since 2011. A 33 percent reduction by 2020 goal focused Grainger on doing business the right way by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

To drive progress toward this goal, our GHG target is included in the performance appraisals for our corporate sustainability team. In addition, energy reduction and efficiency projects reduce utility expenses and improve operating expenses, indirectly effecting profit sharing for U.S. team members.

Recycling and Waste

By standardizing recycling practices and sharing best practices across its network, we are continually improving the recycling rate in our U.S. distribution centers. Teams are trained to use a color-coded system to separate and bale materials such as cardboard, plastic wrap and metal and are encouraged to share and test ideas for ongoing improvements. As a result of these efforts, our diversion rate has increased for four consecutive years.

DC Network Diversion Rate (Amount of waste diverted from a landfill)

DC Recycling Rate


Water Conservation

Grainger does not directly manufacture the products it sells so our water consumption is minimal. However, we do measure our water footprint and look for opportunities to reduce usage, such as installing water efficient fixtures and evaluating the landscaping irrigation programs at our largest facilities. Grainger’s total water consumption in the U.S. in 2016 was 514,802 cubic meters.

Anatomy of a Sustainable Distribution Center