As You Sow, a non-profit promoting corporate social responsibility, has published its 2023 ‘Clean200’, ranking the top 200 publicly traded companies leading in clean energy and sustainability certifications.
The Clean200 report consisted of 6,720 global firms and was “based on a rigorous assessment of the amount of revenue each company earns from products and services” according to As you Sow.
Apple topped the list with $259 billion (£216 billion) in sustainable revenue, with an estimated 71% of the tech giant’s revenue coming from sustainable sources, after not even making the list two years ago.
The tech giant is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all its stores, offices, and data centres with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services.
Googles parent company, Alphabet, came in second with $228.7 billion (£189 billion) in clean revenue. Deutsche Telekom followed up in third with $89 billion (£74 billion), Verizon Communications $80 billion (£67 billion), and Tesla $53 billion (£44 billion)
The Clean200 was first introduced by As You Sow in 2016 as a list to highlight companies leading in clean energy, it has since expanded to encompass revenue that meets a range of sustainability certifications from electric vehicles to sustainable loans. The list excludes companies with exposure to controversial business practices such as investments in fossil fuels, weapons, and prisons or otherwise “having a record of systemically obstructing climate policy.”
“These are the companies that are leading the way by putting sustainability at the heart of their products, services, business models and investments, helping to move the world onto a more sustainable trajectory,” the report stated.
This year’s Clean200 list spanned 35 countries, with the most companies listed in the US, China, and Japan. With the exception of energy, there was broad sector representation: Industrials companies were prevalent, as were information technology, materials, and utility companies.
Apple targets improvement in its supply chains
Apple has made strides in recent years in using recycled materials and rare earth minerals.
The company currently offers eight devices with more than 20% recycled material, according to its 2022 sustainability report. The 2020 MacBook Air with an M1 chip has the highest amount of recycled materials — 44% of the laptop is recycled, including a 100% recycled aluminium enclosure. As of 2021, Apple began using recycled gold and tungsten in all of its iPhones, shipping roughly 225 million devices in 2022.
However, Apple could also do better when selling sustainably sourced products at scale. The company has come under pressure from consumers and governments, who have argued the company makes it too difficult to repair its devices, leading to shorter life cycles for its electronics.
Corporate Knights’ 2023 list of most sustainable companies ranks Apple at 73, using a unique methodology, it aims to recognise firms driving sustainability transition with products and services.
Google and Tesla have consistently ranked among the top two Clean200 companies over the past several years. Google’s clean revenue primarily derives from advertising on Google Maps, which offers features aimed at reducing carbon emissions in transportation, as well as cloud services powered by renewable energy.
Tesla has been a leading force in advancing the use of electric vehicles and spearheading efforts to decarbonise the transportation industry. Nevertheless, the company has faced criticism for its performance on various ESG metrics, including tax payments and labour issues. This has led to Tesla’s exclusion from the S&P 500 index in 2022.
Microsoft and Amazon missing from the list
Two large corporate names with ambitious climate pledges were noticeably absent from As You Sow’s Clean200 list. Microsoft and Amazon were left out due to their issues with reporting disclosures.
Microsoft’s actions have primarily focused on its operations, such as renewable energy projects and managing water usage. However, the company doesn’t provide enough detailed information about product revenue to determine the portion coming from technologies that are supporting the low-carbon economy transition.
Likewise, Amazon shoppers may recognise the “Climate Pledge Friendly” label when shopping online, but the actual level of sustainability varies widely for the self-reported eco-label.
You can find the As You Sow report in full here.
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