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10 of the world’s most sustainable companies

From rail to luxury goods, these are the businesses paving the way to a greener future.

Neste among sustainable companies

As attention and action continue to grow towards climate change, those leading the way as the most sustainable companies in the world have been unveiled.

The biggest responsibility for protecting the planet falls on the shoulders of the largest corporations, and many are making considered moves towards creating environmentally friendly businesses.

Google’s parent company Alphabet, Tesla and leading COVID-19 vaccine developer AstraZeneca were among the Global 100 Index for 2021, ranking the world’s most sustainable corporations, according to Corporate Knights.

The online platform, which is reportedly powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity from Canada, ranked the most sustainable companies with revenue in excess of US$1 billion based on climate commitments, carbon footprint and gender diversity.

“Every company must transition to a sustainable business model to contribute to the fight against climate change – and to stay in business.” – Mads Nipper

Luxury fashion conglomerate Kering climbed from 23rd position last year to seventh, cementing the French brand as one of the leaders for a greener future.

“The Corporate Knights Global 100 Index is considered a benchmark for corporate sustainability every year,” Kering stated. “The Global 100 companies represent the top one per cent in the world on sustainability performance.”

The index, which assessed 8,080 companies, was revealed online at the World Economic Forum’s virtual annual meeting in Switzerland in late January.

Unilever (ranked 79), Adidas AG (ranked 76), Lenovo Group (ranked 78) and Konica Minolta (ranked 41) were among the top 100 companies.

10 most sustainable companies

  1. Schneider Electric
  2. The European multinational energy and automation provider has been named the most sustainable company in the world.

    Soaring from 29th position in 2020, Schneider Electric was recognised for its early and sustained commitment to environmental, social and governance issues.

    “The core of our strategy is to build a sustainable business and company,” said Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Schneider Electric Chair and CEO. “Schneider has long embraced those issues, and we keep raising the bar for ourselves, and for our customers and partners.”

    From working to protect the planet from overheating and building products that protect the environment to ensuring greater access to energy, Schneider Electric is reducing C02 emissions and is slowing the rise of Earth’s temperature by focusing on digital and renewable disruptors.

    “All of us – companies, governments, individuals – can contribute to make the world greener and more inclusive,” the CEO said.

  3. Ørsted
  4. sustainable companies
    Ørsted CEO Mads Nipper. Image: Ørsted

    Pledging to fight climate change through renewable energy, Ørsted was rated the second most sustainable company on the planet.

    Falling from the overall top 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’re delighted with our continued high ranking in the Global 100, which reflects both our determination in driving a sustainable and profitable business and our commitment to be a catalyst for the global green energy transformation,” said Mads Nipper, Ørsted CEO.

    As one of the largest renewable energy developers, the company has transformed its business from fossil fuels to renewable energy and is on track to be carbon neutral by 2025.

    “Every company must transition to a sustainable business model to contribute to the fight against climate change – and to stay in business,” the CEO explained.

  5. Banco do Brasil
  6. 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 firm aims to be inclusive and digitally transform society through providing access to the internet and contributing to education through stimulating innovation and entrepreneurs.

    In 2020, the government-owned company was ranked in ninth position, but it swiftly moved up the index this year.

  7. Neste
  8. sustainable companies

    Renowned 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 leading the way in sustainability.

    The Finnish entity dropped from third place to fourth within a year, but it’s the 15th consecutive year the company has been included on the Corporate Knights Global 100 Index, which is considerably longer than any other global energy company.

    Neste President and CEO Peter Vanacker said it was an honour to be recognised by the industry-leading index once again.

    “Our purpose of creating a healthier planet for our children is what drives us to aim higher every day,” he said. “Many businesses are continuously improving their sustainability efforts and placing on the list gets more difficult every year. It is great to see more and more companies actively integrating sustainability at the core of their business.

    “We believe that together with our partners, we can succeed in reducing the impacts of the climate crisis.”

  9. Stantec
  10. While Stantec is among the world’s most sustainable companies, it also leads the way for North America.

    Clean revenue and clean investment, which are goods and services with a clear environmental and social benefit, accounted for half of the company’s overall score.

    “Our leading track record on sustainability is the result of the deep commitment and exemplary leadership of our people across Stantec’s entire global operation,” said Gord Johnston, Stantec President and CEO. “Our teams continue to enhance sustainability in our own operations while also helping clients set and achieve their sustainability goals.”

  11. McCormick & Company
  12. sustainable companies

    It may have been ranked as the sixth most sustainable corporation in the world, but McCormick & Company is also the leader of the food industry.

    Soaring 16 positions, the US-based packaged and processed foods business has achieved its highest ranking since its index debut five years ago.

    Dedicated to improving the planet, the Fortune 1000 company has committed to sustainable sourcing to support farmers across more than 80 countries while also investing in farming communities in Madagascar, India and Indonesia.

    McCormick & Company Chairman, President and CEO Lawrence E Kurzius said it was an honour to see the company ranked on the prestigious list.

    “Standing together for the future of flavour and reducing our impact on the planet has never been more important,” he said. “McCormick continues to drive our clean revenue, deliver renewable energy projects and transition to 100 per cent circular packaging.”

  13. Kering
  14. The parent company of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Ulysse Nardin and Pomellato is the only luxury conglomerate to make the top 10 sustainable companies.

    When assessed against 24 quantitative key performance indicators including resource management, employee management, financial management, clean revenue and investment and supplier performance, Kering held its strong position.

    Striving to create the future of luxury, sustainability is represented across every level of governance from the Board of Directors to the managers of the Houses.

    More recently, it launched the Regenerative Fund for Nature, which will transform one million hectares of farms producing raw materials in fashion supply chains to regenerative agriculture over the next five years.

    “Kering’s commitment to protect the nature on which it depends is a massive step forward for the fashion industry, and it represents a huge opportunity for this sector to influence billions of people and help to redefine what we value as consumers of fashion and luxury goods,” said Dr M Sanjayan, Conservation International CEO.

  15. Metso Outotec
  16. Described as a frontrunner in sustainable technologies and services for aggregates, mineral processing and recycling industries, Metso Outotec sits proudly in eighth position on the Global 100 Index.

    Aiming to make a positive impact on the planet through being a sustainable leader, the Finland-based company has set a number of ambitious goals including limiting global warming to 1.5oC.

    “We are proud that our sustainability work gets recognition,” said Piia Karhu, Metso Outotec Senior Vice President Business Development. “Our focus is on developing sustainable products and services to our aggregates, minerals and metals industry customers. By joining forces with our customers, partners and the communities, we will accelerate sustainable innovation together.”

  17. American Water Works Company
  18. sustainable companies

    Recognised for its leadership and transparency, American Water ranks among the top 10 sustainable companies.

    Founded in 1886, the US business is the largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility enterprise, employing more than 6,800 people.

    Despite servicing 15 million people in 46 states, the company saves 12.5 billion litres of water annually through its efficiency measures. It has also pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2025.

    “Delivering a reliable supply of safe, clean, affordable water to our customers and treating their wastewater is just part of our commitment to challenge ourselves to always improve the sustainability of our business and make a positive societal impact,” said Walter Lynch, American Water President and CEO.

  19. Canadian National Railway
  20. sustainable companies
    Image: Canadian National Railway Company

    The only railway company to make the list for 2021 was the Canadian National Railway.

    Aligning itself with the United Nations Global Compact standards and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the railway conglomerate follows a global standard for sustainability measures.

    Responsible for transporting more than C$250 billion (US$195.6 billion) worth of goods, the transport service is described as being the backbone of the Canadian economy, where sustainability is crucial in ensuring its future.

    “Delivering responsibly is at the heart of how Canadian National is building a sustainable future,” said JJ Ruest, CN President and CEO. “We are deeply committed to moving customer goods safely and efficiently, being environmentally responsible, attracting and developing the best diverse talent, helping build safe, stronger communities, while adhering to the highest ethical standards.”

    Feature image: Neste

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