A new report ranks the world’s most sustainable companies and reveals a significant increase in sustainable investments among the leading firms.
Released today, the Corporate Knights’ 20th annual Global 100 ranking shows that the top-ranked companies on average allocated 55% of their investments to sustainable projects in 2022, a jump from 47% the previous year.
This stands in stark contrast to the broader market, where publicly traded companies with over $1 billion (£790mn) in annual revenue invested just 17% of their funds in sustainable projects.
According to the research, the top 100 companies also surpassed the market in terms of sustainable revenue, generating 51% of their revenue from sustainable sources in 2022, up from 50% the previous year. In comparison, the broader market achieved just 16%.
Matthew Malinsky, Corporate Knights’ research manager, notes, “The fact that these companies are investing more in sustainable capital expenditure and R&D implies higher sustainable revenues in the near future.”
Over its 20-year existence, the Global 100 index has consistently reported higher total returns from listed companies, averaging 295% between 2005 and 2023. In contrast, the largest listed companies on the MSCI ACWI index saw lower overall returns, averaging 278% over the same period, emphasising the business advantages of adopting a greener business model.
The 2024 ranking’s top positions were secured by Australian companies Sims and Brambles, both specialising in recycling and circular economy models. Sims operates in 30 countries, recycling scrap metal, while Brambles globally rents recycled shipping pallets and containers.
Malinsky suggests that the success of Sims and Brambles reflects a broader trend as more companies embrace the circular economy to minimise waste and resource consumption.
The Global 100 ranking is published by Corporate Knights, a non-profit organisation that evaluates the environmental, social, and governance performance of publicly traded companies. The ranking compares and ranks the world’s largest publicly traded companies based on their impact on people and the planet relative to their peers.
“When we launched the Global 100 in 2005, the green economy was a quaint idea,” said Corporate Knights co-founder and CEO Toby Heaps. “Many companies didn’t publish in-house sustainability reports. There were no standardised key performance indicators, and none of the companies were reporting the percentage of their revenue or investments that were green.”
“We did the best job possible with limited qualitative corporate disclosure.”
“Now we can measure this green business exposure for the majority of companies and are able to count annual green investments that run into the trillions, growing six times faster than the economy at large,” Heaps says.
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