The Top 5 Most Sustainable Corporations in America

Two hands, one hand holding a tree, the other holding stacks of coins

In recent years, sustainability, environmental initiatives, and human rights issues have all become hot topics across various industries throughout the world. In response, many companies are beginning to adopt practices that benefit both the planet and the global population without hurting their own revenues.

Earlier this year, Corporate Knights, a Canadian magazine dedicated to highlighting “clean capitalism,” ranked the top 100 most sustainable corporations in the world. Every company chosen for the list generated higher revenues than their global peers.

Out of the 22 countries represented, the U.S. had a slight edge, with 18 companies. Five of these companies were in the top-25 tier.

1. Cisco Systems was the top U.S. company, coming in at #7.

  • Teaming up with the Anudip Foundation, Cisco helped combat global poverty by training 85,000 Indian youths, ultimately placing 75% of these students in jobs.
  • The company reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by relying on renewable energy, which currently accounts for 80% of Cisco’s worldwide electricity usage.
  • Cisco is aiming to eliminate 1 million tons of greenhouse gases from the supply chain by 2020.
  • Partnering up with Dimension Data, the company was able to bring about a 96% reduction in rhino poaching at a South African game.

2. Autodesk came in right behind Cisco Systems, at #8.

  • Since 2009, the company has reduced its GHG emissions footprint by 38%.
  • Philanthropy is a big part of company culture, with Autodesk logging a total of 26,000 hours of employee volunteering time in 2017.
  • Autodesk has a foundation that's contributed $6.5 million in donations to charitable causes.
  • The business has also donated $19.1 million worth of products.
  • The company’s facility and data center are 100% powered by renewable sources.
  • Autodesk set up the Autodesk Knowledge Network to help educate people on sustainable design, and the network currently features 250+ videos and articles.

3. Coming in at #13, Merck has been successfully working toward a variety of sustainability goals, including:

  • Reducing the company’s water usage. Currently, Merck is using 4.4 million cubic meters less than it was in 2015, an 18% reduction.
  • Collecting data from 90% of the company’s suppliers in order to curtail water and GHG emission issues.
  • Reducing the business’ global Scope 1 and market-based Scope 2 GHG emissions by at least 40% compared to 2015.
  • Reducing operational waste by 80%+.

4. Allergan was ranked at #20. As of 2017, the company had accomplished the following:

  • Reducing 15% of water consumption in locations dealing with water scarcity and extreme weather.
  • Eliminating landfill waste from five manufacturing operations.
  • Reducing global waste by 19% and U.S. waste by 36% since 2015.
  • Decreasing GHG emissions by 38% since 2015.
  • Identifying 130 energy- and water-reduction projects through “Energy Treasure Hunts.”
  • Reducing hazardous waste by 49%.

5. McCormick came in at #23, and has been working toward many 2025 goals, including:

  • Having 30% of the company’s U.S. leadership positions held by people of color, and 50% of global leadership positions held by women.
  • Reducing GHG emissions by 20%.
  • Reducing water consumption by 20%.
  • Recycling and recovering 80% of solid wastes from the company’s facilities.
  • Reducing the packaging carbon footprint by 25%.
  • Increasing smallholder farm resiliency by 90%.

A Greener Future

All of these corporations are at various stages of their work toward more sustainable systems and operations. Successful sustainability is a marathon, not a race, and by setting realistic goals, these companies have been able to make a real difference without sacrificing their profit margins.


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