Five Notable Sustainable Corporations in the United States
Updated: Mar 24
Photo by Alana Koval on Pexels.
At the Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the ranking of the most sustainable corporations in the world went public. Compiled by Corporate Knights, Inc., the list featured Danish renewable energy provider, Ørsted, at the top. Ørsted reduced its fossil fuel consumption by 72% between 2006 and 2029 and is on track to “essentially become carbon neutral” by 2025.
Danish companies held the number one and number two spots, with Europe dominating the list. Forty-nine corporations are based in Europe, 18 hail from Asia, three from Latin America, and one from Africa. Out of the 100 corporations listed, 29 are based in the US and Canada.
Five US companies fell within the top 25. Here’s a round up of who they are, what they do, and steps they’re taking in the name of corporate sustainability.
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Founded in 1984, Cisco Systems, Inc. manufactures and distributes information technology and telecommunications software, hardware, and services worldwide. Headquartered in San Jose, California, Cisco was number four on the list of top sustainable corporations in the world.
Cisco lowered its carbon emissions by 48% from 2007 to 2019. According to their 2019 Cisco Social Responsibility report, 100% of energy used in North America comes from renewable sources. The corporation avoided using 456 metric tons of virgin plastic in products and packaging 2019 as well.
Additional sustainability initiatives undertaken by Cisco include reducing water consumption, responsible water management, and wildlife protection programs to foster biodiversity.
Engineering, construction, and 3D design software company, Autodesk, began as a computer-aided design company in 1982. Now a multinational corporation based in San Rafael, California, Autodesk ranked fifth on the 100 most sustainable corporations in the world.
Since 2014, Autodesk has undertaken programs to support innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Autodesk has committed $2.5 million to low carbon innovation startups and ecosystem partners. Autodesk has also lowered its own carbon dioxide emissions by 67,500 metric tons.
Autodesk supports 22 organizations working on behalf of vulnerable populations, benefitting 20 million individuals around the world in 2018 alone. Employee volunteer hours, product donations, and company and Autodesk Foundation cash contributions accompany the corporation’s endorsement of global initiatives put forth by the United Nations.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.
Number 15 on the top 100 sustainable corporation list, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, calls San Jose, California home. Through its Living Progress program, the worldwide information technology corporation strives to reduce the environmental footprint of information technology infrastructure.
In 2018, Hewlett Packard pledged to reduce its operational carbon emissions by 55% by 2025. Guided by the sustainable development goals articulated by the United Nations, Hewlett Packard engages in large-scale refurbishment programs, while 78% of its suppliers have or will set science-based emission targets.
On track to meet climate goals to reduce carbon emissions as well as increase energy performance by 30% and source 50% of its operational energy to renewable sources by 2025, Hewlett Packard also works with nonprofits, combats forced labor, and invests in small and minority-owned enterprises.
Headquartered in Camden, New Jersey, American Water serves roughly 14 million people in 46 states. American Water was listed as number 16 on the list of corporate sustainability leaders, largely the result of its efforts to address climate variability.
Dedicated to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 2025, American Water also strives to provide water 20 times better than the industry standard. American Water offers an Environmental Grant Program to local organizations and partners with environmental groups to protect watersheds in their service areas.
American Water also saves 3.3 billion gallons of water annually by implementing efficiency measures and partners with the EPA’s WaterSense program to promote water conservation awareness.
McCormick & Company
McCormick & Company, housed in Hunt Valley, Maryland, manufactures, markets, and distributes food products around the world. McCormick was number 22 among top sustainable corporations, the result of sustainable sourcing, global giving, and supplier diversity initiatives.
Using UN sustainability goals to drive much of their Purpose-Led Performance approach, McCormick has committed to sustainably sourcing 100 of its branded ingredients by 2025. McCormick has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption by its facilities by 20% by 2025.
Reduction and recovery of 80% of solid waste from factories accompanies an overall goal to reduce McCormick’s carbon footprint from packaging by 25%. Based on their 2019 report, McCormick has met its solid waste goal and, to date, it has eliminated 12,500 metric tons of carbon emissions related to packaging.
Other US based corporations on the list include real estate investment trust company, Prologis (#28), Sims Metal Management (#47), global science and technology innovator, Danaher (#53), Tesla (#74), and Campbell Soup Company (#93).
According to co-founder and CEO of Corporate Knights, Toby Heaps, “In this age of climate and carbon constraints and an emerging climate economy, these companies are positioned to succeed.”
As companies across economic sectors move toward sustainability - driven by science, consumer pressures, government regulations, and investors - they set precedent and serve as models around the world. With much work still needed to be done, these entities represent strategic, practical, and, perhaps most importantly, possible change within the business community.