The 10 most sustainable and eco-friendly companies worldwide

Elizabeth Smith

Companies are discovering how strategic being sustainable has become. Even in retail, especially among Millennials and Generation Z. Eco-friendly companies and those in the Corporate Knights Global 100 Index will be rewarded by consumers for being more environmentally friendly, using resources and adopting anti-waste policies. But above all, they improve transparency in communication.

Companies are at the top of the eco-friendly rankings not only because they aim to leave the world a better place, but also because their actions have a positive impact on their own turnover. A positive return on investment (ROI) is a sign of a healthy business. But equating ROI with profits alone is dangerously outdated thinking.

This is why building an eco-friendly brand has become so important. Much of the trend has to do with the changing preferences of today’s customers. Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact humans are having on the environment.

How is corporate sustainability measured?

The benchmark for corporate sustainability is the Corporate Knights Global 100 Index. The Global 100 companies represent the world’s best in terms of sustainability performance. After all, in addition to contributing to a healthier planet, companies are also discovering that an environmentally sustainable strategy also gives them the power they need to grow and prosper in a new market.

Companies are selected for several key performance indicators, including but not limited to the following categories:

  • resource management: greenhouse gas and other emissions;
  • financial management: including innovation capacity or percentage of R&D expenditure to total revenue;
  • employee management: e.g. women in management and/or boards of directors;
  • eco-friendly revenue: indicating the percentage of total revenue derived from ‘ecofriendly’ products and services.

The 10 most sustainable companies

1. Schneider Electric

The European energy and automation multinational has been named the most sustainable company in the world. Rising from 29th position in 2020, Schneider Electric was honoured for its commitment to environmental, social and governance issues. Schneider Electric is reducing C02 emissions and slowing the earth’s temperature rise by focusing on digital and renewable disrupters.

2. Ørsted

Committed to fighting climate change through renewable energy, Ørsted has been rated the second most sustainable company on the planet. Dropping from the pedestal of the first position in 2020, the Danish power company is still the most sustainable energy company in the world. A title it has held for three consecutive years. We are talking about one of the largest developers of renewable energy. The company has transformed its business from fossil fuels to renewable energy. It is on track to be carbon neutral by 2025.

3. Banco do Brasil

The largest bank by assets in Brazil and Latin America, Banco do Brasil is also one of the most sustainable companies. Founded 212 years ago, the company aims to be inclusive and digitally transform society. It provides Internet access and contributes to education by stimulating innovation and entrepreneurs. In 2020, the government-owned company ranked ninth, but quickly climbed the index this year.

4. Neste

Known for its renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel, development of chemical recycling to combat plastic waste and innovation in refining raw materials into renewable fuels, Neste is at the forefront of sustainability. The Finnish company went from third to fourth place in one year. This is the 15th consecutive year that the company has been included in the Corporate Knights Global 100 index.

5. Stantec

Stantec is among the most sustainable companies in the world, but is also number one in North America. Clean revenues and clean investments, which are goods and services with a clear environmental and social benefit, accounted for half of the company’s overall score.

6. McCormick & Company

For being ranked the sixth most sustainable company in the world, McCormick & Company is also the leader in the food industry. Operating in the US-based packaged and processed foods market, it achieved its highest score since its debut in the index five years ago. Dedicated to improving the planet, the company has committed to sustainable sourcing to support farmers in over 80 countries.

7. Kering

The parent company of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Ulysse Nardin and Pomellato is the only luxury conglomerate to make the top 10 list of sustainable companies. Striving to create the future of luxury, sustainability is represented at all levels of governance, from the Board of Directors to the managers of the Maisons.

8. Metso Outotec

A leader in sustainable technologies and services for the aggregates, mineral processing and recycling industries, Metso Outotec proudly holds the eighth position in the Global 100 index. Aiming to have a positive impact on the planet through being a sustainable leader, the Finland-based company has set a number of ambitious targets including limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

9. American Water Works Company

Recognised for its leadership and transparency, American Water ranks among the top 10 sustainable companies. Despite serving 15 million people in 46 states, the company saves 12.5 billion litres of water per year through its efficiency measures. It is also committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2025.

10. Canadian National Railway

The only railway company to make the list for 2021 was the Canadian National Railway. Aligned with the standards of the UN Global Compact and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the railway conglomerate follows a global standard for sustainability measures. Responsible for the transport of more than C$250 billion worth of goods (US$195.6 billion), the transport service is on of the backbones of the Canadian economy, where sustainability is key to securing its future.

Why is it more and more important for companies to become sustainable

In conclusion, sustainability is now key to improving one’s business, as evidenced by the superior performance of the biggies in the Global 100. But there is also another thought to be made. All of the Top 100 companies are solid companies that have believed in science and the use of new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Big Data analysis.

Read also: “Greenwashing”: what is it, how to spot it and 3 practical examples

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