Stockholm (NordSIP) – Corporate Knights, a Canadian media and research company, has been compiling a ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations every year since 2005. Persevering in their efforts for such a long time grants the researchers a certain degree of credibility. As usual, the release of their flagship publication’s latest edition was well-timed to hit the market during the World Economic Forum.
Based on a systematic assessment of over 6,000 public companies with revenue over a billion US dollars, the ranking highlights those among them deemed the most sustainable. “Global 100 companies are providing the products and services that are needed for the sustainability transition, and that will form the basis of the emerging 21st-century economy,” says Ralph Torrie, Corporate Knights’ research director. According to him, these sustainability leaders have outperformed the market through the last few tumultuous years, even though the selection is light on oil and gas companies whose profits have soared. Instead, the rising oil prices have stimulated growth in renewables, smart buildings, electric vehicles, and other climate solutions, including circular economy measures. “Our methodology illuminates the say-do gap,” explain the architects behind the ranking. “Only those companies making sustainable solutions a core part of their business offerings and allocating meaningful investments to reduce their carbon footprints make the grade.”
It might come as a surprise to some to find a steel-producing company, Schnitzer Steel, at the very top of Corporate Knights’ list, steel being one of the world’s most carbon-intensive products. However, Schnitzer’s ascension to the top of the Global 100 is quite timely, given the recent focus on decarbonising hard-to-abate industries, including steelmaking, and the importance of metals in the energy transition. The company generates most of its revenues from recycling steel and other metals. About a third comes from forging recycled scrap steel into finished products in electric arc furnaces powered by hydropower, making the metal extremely low carbon. “For a company that is 116 years old and that many consider to be ‘old economy’ to be recognised as a leading force in sustainability is a great example of how sustainability principles can be successfully applied to an industrial company,” comments Tamara Lundgren, Schnitzer Steel’s CEO.
Regionally, Europe still leads the way claiming 44% of the company names on the list. The Nordics are well represented, just as during previous years. As usual, Denmark dominates the ranking, with as many as six Danish companies making it all the way to the top 50: last year’s winner Vestas Wind Systems (second this year), Ørsted, Rockwool, Chr Hansen Holding, Novozymes, and Coloplast. Finland boasts four sustainable leaders, including the only oil company in the whole Global 100 ranking, Neste. The other three Finnish companies on the list are Kone, Kesko, and Nordea. Sweden and Norway are represented by three companies each, which is a slight improvement compared to last year. Two Swedish newcomers, Essity and Handelsbanken are joining Ericsson. Norwegian Atea has moved up to a top 50 position. The other two companies representing Norway are Orkla and Storebrand.
“There is room at the top for many more,” comments Toby Heaps, Corporate Knights’ CEO and co-founder. “In the meantime, Global 100 companies are paving the way for a new generation of sustainability leaders.”