US metal recycler Schnitzer Steel is the world’s most sustainable corporation, according to Canadian research company Corporate Knights’ 2023 corporate sustainability rankings. 

The annual Global 100 ranking compares the sustainability of the world’s 100 largest publicly traded companies, “equally emphasising the impact of a company’s operations along with its core products and services on people and the planet”, stated the company in a press statement. The ranking is based on an assessment of 6,720 companies with more than $1bn in revenues.

The US’s Schnitzer Steel acquires, processes and recycles millions of tonnes of scrap metal. (Photo by Schnitzer Steel)

This year’s Global 100 companies are engaged in overlapping themes including grid innovation, circularity and land renewal. ​For example, the top-ranked company, Schnitzer Steel, acquires, processes and recycles millions of tonnes of scrap metal each year. Similarly, third-ranked company Brambles leverages a “share and reuse” model to manage a network of reusable pallets, crates and containers. 

Around a fifth of Global 100 companies are from the US, making it the leading country for members of the index, followed by Canada with 11%. Regionally, however, Europe still leads the way with 44%, while Asia-Pacific hosts 22% of the businesses.

Information technology (20%) and financial services (15%) remain the leading sectors in the corporate sustainability ranking. Indeed, Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo saw a 234% rise in its sustainable revenue ratio thanks to better disclosure and increasing its social and environmental loans.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, pharmaceuticals groups such as Merck, Pfizer, Novavax and Gilead Sciences all made it into the index. Improved ESG reporting from the Asia-Pacific region also resulted in new entrants from China (electric vehicle (EV) maker Nio and electric bike manufacturer Yadea) and Taiwan (bicycle maker Giant and the Taiwan High Speed Rail).

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By GlobalData

By contrast, US chipmaker Analog Devices fell out of the index on the back of worsening energy, carbon, water and waste productivity, and the fact the pay gap between its CEO and average employee has doubled since 2020. Chinese battery and EV maker BYD dropped out of the Global 100 on the back of increased competition in the car and truck manufacturing sector, even though the company improved its overall performance.