What are sustainable companies? Description and examples [2022]  

by Circularity

Date 26/09/2022
Tipo News
persone che lavorano per aziende sostenibili

Sustainable companies are those that take into account environmental and social as well as economic aspects to create value in the short and long term. In this way, the company contributes to the progress of present and future generations and to the creation of wealth, while continuing to grow. For this reason, and to differentiate themselves from others, companies that follow these ideas can obtain sustainability certificates.  

The Sustainable Development Goals of a company must be based on corporate social responsibility. It is no longer accepted that an entity only seeks to generate profits, more and more consumers and investors are demanding a commitment to the planet and a contribution to sustainable development. It is a matter of companies integrating social and environmental issues into their business operations and their relationships with stakeholders.  

Sustainable companies must change as the world evolves, adapting to the changing needs of the environment. At the same time, by combining their sustainable actions with corporate strategy, they make the latter more than just meeting legal, fiscal or labour obligations. When making decisions, they take into account all aspects that may affect present and future generations, thus becoming companies that are aware of the sustainability of the planet.  

Development in sustainable companies  

What is the sustainable growth of a company? In addition to the ultimate goal of the company’s economic viability in the long and medium term, the concepts of risk and opportunity associated with society’s needs must be taken into account. Taking these aspects into account results in sustainable development in which individual and collective well-being are paramount.  

Business commitment influences decision-making processes at all levels of society. If large companies take into account the wellbeing of all those involved in their activities, so will many other organisations that contribute to the development of the planet.  

Traditionally, it has been difficult to convince companies of the importance of being sustainable, as this is often seen as an expense with no return. However, over time, sustainable environmental management has translated into a positive financial impact. Therefore, companies have identified an opportunity to generate value and have become more involved in the process, driven by the benefits of being a sustainable company.  

How to be a sustainable company?  

  • Controlling energy consumption  

Promoting habits that reduce energy consumption in the workplace can save a lot of money. For example, switching off equipment that is not in use, setting the air conditioning temperature to the right level, switching off lights and making the most of sunlight.  

  • Save paper  

Stopping mindless printing and promoting digital formats is a big reduction that helps curb problems such as deforestation or climate change.  

  • Recycle  

Companies generate a lot of waste, so managing it correctly is a good step towards sustainability. The 3R rule should be present in every company.  

  • Environmental education and training  

Training employees creates awareness that leads them to respect these points and apply them.  

  • Green procurement
green procurement catene di fornitura

Choosing suppliers with an environmental commitment and, preferably, local or nearby is a gesture with great repercussions. This strategy is known as green procurement.  

  • Sustainable means of transport  

Having hybrid or electric vehicles, promoting collective transport for workers, the use of public transport, cycling or walking are actions to reduce the environmental impact of transport.  

  • Apply eco-design  

Ecodesign means designing products from an environmental point of view, taking into account the entire production process, from their creation to the end of their useful life.  

  • Promoting sustainability among customers  

Conducting campaigns that reward customers’ sustainable actions is a good way to promote environmental responsibility and educate customers.  

  • Cooperate with social organisations  

In addition to everything you can do within your company, you can also go further and collaborate with organisations that care about the environment.  

  • Reducing the environmental footprint  

By measuring the impact of companies that harm the environment through their activities, you can plan actions to be more sustainable.  

The 100 most sustainable companies in the world  

Which companies can claim to be sustainable? To find out which companies are at the top of this ranking, we take a look at the Corporate Knights Global 100. This ranking analyses the world’s most sustainable listed companies with gross sales of at least 1 billion. Among the criteria used to compile the list are KPIs such as resource management, investment in R&D, women in management positions and revenues from green goods and services.  

These are the companies that occupy the top positions:  

1. Orsted A/S  

First place goes to this Danish renewable energy company. In just 10 years, Orsted has changed a business model that used 85% fossil fuels in its processes. In doing so, it has gone from working with oil and natural gas to setting itself the challenge of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2025.   

Overall score: 85.2%.  

2. Chr. Hansen Holding A / S

Denmark is at the forefront of sustainability policies and the results are reflected in its companies. In second place in the ranking is a sustainable chemicals and nutrition company whose aim is to use natural ingredients in food production. Crops and enzymes, natural dyes, plant protection products and probiotics are some of its products.  

Overall score: 83.9%.  

3. Neste Oyj

The three most sustainable companies in the world come from Northern Europe. Finland’s Neste Oyj works with oil refineries, but does so as a world leader in renewable diesel production. In the 2000s it started its corporate turnaround, which was realised thanks to NEXBTL technology. Through its use, it transforms fats into molecules that replace fossil materials in fuel production.  

Overall score: 83.6%.  

8. Enel Group

Jumping to eighth place, we find the first Italian company in the ranking. Since the 1970s, Enel has been a pioneer in the use of renewable energy. In 2004, it joined the UN Global Compact, an initiative that allows companies to incorporate policies on human rights, the environment and labour legality. With the Open Power project, they want to bring energy and new technologies to the poorest regions of the planet.  

Overall score: 81.77%. 

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