US firms slow to develop green models

23 October 2012

NEW YORK: IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell are the best-performing US companies when it comes to sustainability, but lag behind rivals from Europe and emerging markets in this area, a report has shown.

Newsweek, the magazine, allied with Trucost and Sustainalytics, the insights groups, to assess the ecological credentials of 500 major US corporations and 500 of their overseas counterparts.

Santander Brasil, the financial services provider, led the charts on 85.7 points. It had registered 75.3 points in the same study last year, and climbed 16 places in the latest annual table.

One area in which it received praise was for asking potential business clients to lay out their environmental policies, and encouraging improvements before approving loans or credit.

Wipro, the IT company from India, took second spot on 85.4 points, beating Bradesco, the Brazilian bank and last year's winner, on 83.7 points. Both enterprises bettered their totals from 2011.

IBM, the services provider, occupied fourth on 82.2 points, a 0.4-point gain on a year ago. National Australia Bank, another financial services firm, followed on 82.7 points, versus 82.2 points last year.

Five European players came next, led by BT, the UK-based telco, on 82.7 points, ahead of two German operators: insurance giant Munich Re on 82.5 points and software expert SAP on 81.8 points.

Completing this group and the top ten were KPN, a Dutch telecommunications conglomerate, on 80.6 points, and Marks & Spencer, the British retailer, on 80.5 points.

The next highest-ranking American corporation was Hewlett-Packard, the IT company, in 22nd position on 78.5 points. Dell, one of its competitors, was the only other US business in the top 30, on 77.1 points.

David J Vidal, an advisory panel member for the study, suggested the increasing pressure on the global ecosystem and the scarcity of resources meant stronger responses were now required.

"Companies will need to learn to live with externalities that will become expenses fully reflected in their bottom lines. And that is a difference that has barely begun," he said.

A poll of 8,743 US shoppers by Penn Schoen Berland and Landor Associates for Newsweek found Whole Foods, the retailer, was seen as the number one green brand on 77.5 points, some 16.3 points above its actual score.

Waste Management, the industrial group, posted 69.4 points among the public sample, and 47.1 points in the formal research. These figures hit 67.5 points and 68.9 points in turn for healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson.

Data sourced from Newsweek; additional content by Warc staff