GE, PG&E Corp. Hold Top Spots on Corporate Knights' List of Most Sustainable Companies

GE, PG&E Corp. Hold Top Spots on Corporate Knights' List of Most Sustainable Companies

General Electric Company, the PG&E Corporation and Tnt Nv, an international express and mail delivery service based in the Netherlands, rank first, second and third place respectively on Corporate Knights magazine's sixth annual Global 100 list of most sustainable firms.

The magazine released the roster for 2010 on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum's conference in Davos, Switzerland.

This year's list of 100 companies hail from 24 countries, employ about 3 million people and represent a collective value $4 trillion.

The United Kingdom is home to the greatest number of companies on the list. It is the headquarters for 21 this year and had 20 companies on the list in 2009. Twelve firms are based in the U.S. this year, compared with 20 last year. The next highest number of companies are based in Canada and Australia, which each have nine this year. Overall, 50 percent of the firms that made the cut in 2009 are on the list for 2010.

The top 10 firms this year are:

Corporate giants that rank among the leading 20 companies in the Global 100 include Henkel Ag of Germany (at No. 11), which was on the top 10 list recently compiled by green mutual fund group Portfolio 21; U.S. firm Procter & Gamble (No. 13); Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. (14); Koninklijke Philips Electronics (17) of the Netherlands, better known simply as Philips; and Shell, or more formally, Royal Dutch Shell Plc of the U.K.

The firms were culled from a pool of 3,000 global stocks and reviewed against 11 metrics to qualify for inclusion among the top 100 this year.

The performance indicators were:

  • Energy, carbon, water and waste productivity -- ratios of sales to total direct and indirect energy consumption, total carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, total water use and total waste produced, respectively;
  • Leadership diversity, which was gauged by the percentage of women on a company's board of directors;
  • A comparison of the highest paid executive's compensation to average employee compensation;
  • The percentage of total reported tax obligation that was paid in cash;
  • A score for sustainability leadership that was based on whether the firm has a sustainability committee and whether a director is part of the group;
  • Sustainability remuneration, which was determined by whether at least one senior officer's pay is linked to sustainability; 
  • Innovation capacity, expressed as a ratio of R&D and sales; and 
  • Transparency, which was measured by the percentage of data points for which the company provided information and its level of GRI disclosure.

GE, whose businesses to foster and focus on sustainability are embraced by its ecomagination line, went to the top of the list with an array of high scores. They included $729,685 in sales per tonne of waste produced, which placed the company in the 89th percentile among firms in the capital goods industry group.

Almost a quarter of GE's directors are women. In addition, the firm doubled its carbon productivity from 2006 to 2008 by cutting total carbon emissions from 10.8 million tonnes to 6.5 million tonnes, while increasing sales from $150 billion to $181 billion.

The full list of Global 100 companies and details about their rankings are available at

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Jeff Kubina