This post includes analysis conducted by Steffen Bixby, JUST Capital Manager of Data Modeling & Environment.
No matter your political leaning, Rachel Carson’s famous words ring true: “In nature, nothing exists alone.”
This year’s Earth Day tackles how we can keep these words in mind, and protect the rich biodiversity of our planet while contemplating the ways that individuals and institutions can better mitigate their impacts on the environment.
At JUST Capital, we’ve surveyed more than 81,000 Americans over the past four years, to better understand what matters most to them when it comes to just business behavior. And when asked about the state of business today, 57% of respondents said that companies have a negative impact on the environment, while a much smaller proportion – only 38% – believe that companies have a positive impact.
Americans agree that the environment should be a priority for companies, but that corporate behavior is clearly not measuring up. The good news is that, despite this middling perception, our analysis shows that there are a number of companies across sectors working to build a more sustainable future.
These companies – the top environmental performers in the 33 industries we track and analyze in our Rankings – are not only reducing their impact on the environment, but are overall more just companies. They align with many of the public’s priorities – including worker well-being, community support, and customer treatment – and score highly in the JUST Capital Rankings:
Further, environmental leadership is correlated with higher profitability – with Industry Environmental Leaders earning a higher median Return-on-Equity than their peers:
This confirms that, as we’ve shown in the past, leadership on these core issues is not just good for the environment, it’s good for business. While corporate America still has a long way to go in mitigating its environmental impacts, we want to take this opportunity to celebrate the companies that – regardless of their industry – are taking responsibility for their place in nature through actions that protect, rather than harm, the environment.
Here are some of the concrete actions these companies – in order of their overall JUST Capital rank – are taking:
#1 Microsoft – Software
Since 2012, Microsoft’s global operations have been 100% net carbon neutral. The company charges a “carbon fee” to all business groups for their carbon footprint, and invests the fees collected in its carbon reduction initiatives.
#2 Intel – Semiconductors & Equipment
Intel believes that employee engagement is essential to reaching the company’s environmental goals, and since 2008, has tied a portion of each employee’s compensation to corporate sustainability metrics.
#3 Alphabet – Internet
Since 2016, Google has been using AI systems to manage cooling at its 15 data centers, saving up to 40% of energy. Data centers account for 2% of global greenhouse emissions – about the same as air travel.
#5 International Business Machines – Computer Services
In 2017, IBM purchased 22.9% of its electricity from renewable sources, exceeding its 2020 goal of 20% by 2020, and well on its way to the company’s 2025 goal of 55%.
#12 Accenture – Commercial Support Service
In December, Accenture announced that it would aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 11% by 2025, against its 2016 baseline – the largest professional services company to make this type of commitment.
#13 AT&T – Telecommunications
By 2020, AT&T aims to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from its 2008 baseline – and as of 2017, the company had already reduced its emissions by 22.6%, ahead of its target.
#14 General Motors – Automobiles & Parts
GM aspires to reduce its carbon footprint – 77% of which is represented by its global vehicle fleet – to zero, and toward that goal plans to introduce 20 new zero-emissions vehicles to global markets by 2023.
#15 General Mills – Food, Beverage, & Tobacco
General Mills tracks the sustainable sourcing of 10 priority ingredients, including palm oil, dairy milk, and sugar beets, aiming to sustainably source 100% of these ingredients by 2020 – and achieving 85% in 2018.
#16 Apple – Technology Hardware
Apple sourced 100% of the electricity used at all its facilities in 2018 from renewable sources, and in 2017, 22 of Apple’s supplier facilities were certified as Zero Waste, including all iPhone final assembly sites.
#18 ResMed – Health Care Equipment & Services
In its manufacturing operations, Resmed reduced its energy intensity by 26.7% in 2017, attributing improvements to new lean process equipments such as robot demoulders and conveying systems that deliver higher productivity.
#19 Biogen – Pharmaceuticals & Biotech
By 2020, Biogen aims to reduce GHG intensity of operations by 80% from its 2006 baseline, and had already at a 72% reduction in 2015.
#20 United Parcel Service – Transportation
In 2017, UPS decreased greenhouse gas emissions of ground operations by 0.6%, and aims to reduce emissions by 12% by 2025 – a significant challenge in light of growing e-commerce. As part of its Global Forestry Initiative, UPS planted 2.8 million trees from 2016 to 2017.
#21 Keysight Technologies – Industrial Goods
In 2017, Keysight recycled 75% – 1,627 metric tons – of its waste in 2017, and offers a take-back a recycling program for electrical and electronic equipment.
#22 S&P Global – Consumer & Diversified Finance
Global employees at S&P work to save energy and water, reduce waste, and benefit communities, and 12 employee-led Green Teams support environmental targets and help lead on-site and community initiatives.
#24 Prudential Financial – Insurance
Prudential has developed opportunities to mitigate climate change in a range of asset classes, including renewable energy, “green” bonds, and “green” real estate. Its renewables portfolio market value increased by almost 13% from 2016 to 2017.
#25 Clorox – Personal Products
Clorox is committed to ensuring that more than 90% of its product packaging is recyclable, making sustainability improvements to half of its global product portfolio, and eliminating PVC in all packaging.
#40 Nielsen Holdings – Media
Nielsen has established several programs around eliminating waste from its operations – including a 2020 goal to ensure that none of its global e-waste is sent to landfills, and a “No Print” initiative in its offices that has saved over 70,000 sheets of paper.
#47 ConocoPhillips – Oil & Gas
In 2013, ConocoPhillips established a 5-year Biodiversity Action Plan to minimize long-term environmental risks – including technological innovations that reduce the equipment, roadways, and pipelines required to complete projects.
#52 Northrop Grumman – Aerospace & Defense
Environmental sustainability is one of the Northrop Grumman’s performance metrics for executive compensation, holding company leaders accountable for achievement of sustainability goals.
#78 Bank of New York Mellon – Capital Markets
In 2017, Bank of New York Mellon diverted nearly 73% of solid waste from landfills, reused or recycled 35,682 technology devices, and recycled 3,088 printers.
#80 Cummins – Commercial Vehicles & Machinery
Cummins works with its customers to improve the efficiency of its products – achieving an annual run-rate reduction of 3.4 million metric tons of CO2, approximately 97% of its 2020 goal to reduce by 3.5 million.
#101 PVH Corp – Household Goods & Apparel
Approximately 70% of PVH Corps on-product packaging – such as stickers, hangtags, and tissue paper – is recyclable, and in 2017, the company recycled 10,000 metric tons, or about 90%, of its solid waste.
#111 JPMorgan Chase & Co – Banks
JPMorgan Chase aims to source 100% of its global power needs from renewable energy by 2020, and is committed to facilitating $200 billion in clean financing by 2025. Having already provided over $100 billion, it is already halfway toward achieving this goal.
#119 Avery Dennison – Chemicals
Avery Dennison has committed to lowering absolute emissions by a minimum of 3% annually (at least 26% in total), based on The 3% Solution developed by World Wildlife Fund, along with the CDP and McKinsey & Company.
#137 Cardinal Health – Food & Drug Retailers
Cardinal Health has invested in waste water recovery, collecting rainwater from site roofs to use for air cooling, bathrooms, and irrigation. In 2017, the company recycled more than 250 million gallons (20% of total water consumption) at its facilities.
#144 Kohls Corp – Retail
Kohl’s is committed to renewable energy use, with Many of its stores deriving up to 50% of their energy from solar power. The company hosts 200,000 solar panels on 161 rooftops, as well as two wind turbines at one of its distribution centers.
#154 Vectren – Utilities
Vectren is working to transition its electric generation portfolio away from nearly total reliance on coal to a diversified portfolio that includes natural gas and renewable energy – drawn in part from solar projects that will serve more than 11,000 households each year.
#226 Domtar Corporation – Basic Resources
At Domtar’s pulp and paper mills, the company has seen an 18% reduction in GHGs since 2010, a 36% reduction in waste to landfill since 2013, and has utilized 74% of its byproducts for beneficial purposes (compared to the industry average of 47%).
#274 Schlumberger – Energy Equipment & Services
Schlumberger employees have initiated and participated in projects worldwide that have helped reduce environmental impact – including safe recycling of lithium batteries, tree planting initiatives, and waste reduction in facilities in Gabon and Libya.
#277 Aptargroup – Building Materials & Packaging
In 2015, Aptargroup launched its Landfill Free Certification Program, which requires its sites to prove, through a third-party audit, reuse or recycle of at least 90% of operational waste. 46% of the company’s sites were certified in 2017.
#361 Quest Diagnostics – Health Care Providers
In 2017, Quest Diagnostics set an ambitious new management goal to improve its environmental data collection efforts at its various sites and facilities, allowing the company to better track its local and broad impacts in the coming years.
#415 Wyndham Destinations – Restaurants & Leisure
Wyndham Destinations has set a 2025 goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40% and water consumption by 25% compared to its 2010 baseline – having already reduced them by 31% and 22%, respectively.
#557 Vornado Realty Trust – Real Estate
Vornado has set a goal to certify all in-service office properties as green buildings, and as of 2018, had done so for 91% of its properties.
This article was originally published at Forbes.com.