Newsweek has released its green company rankings for 2012 which show the information and communications technology (ICT) industry setting the pace for other industries.
Every year since 2009 Newsweek has published the Green Rankings, which assess the largest publicly-traded companies in America (the U.S. 500 list) and the largest publicly-traded companies based in developed and emerging markets worldwide (the Global 500 list). The rankings are based on actual environmental footprint, management of that footprint and sustainability communications. The results provide a framework for comparing the environmental commitment and performance of major companies and across industries.
It’s good to see that the Greenest Global list is dominated by ICT players, including IT services companies, telecoms players and technology equipment suppliers. Nine of the top 15 companies are ICT-related, with Wipro in second place overall, IBM in fourth, BT(6), SAP (8), KPN (9), TCS (11), Bell Canada (13), Nokia (14) and Telefonica (15). The rest of the top 15 is dominated by finance companies (Santander Brazil is the overall greenest company globally), the only other industry represented is retail, in the form of the UK’s Marks and Spencer.
In the rankings for the US, the ICT presence is even more striking, with 11 ICT companies in the top 15. The companies and rankings are; IBM (1), HP (2), Sprint (3), Dell (4), CA Technologies (5), NVIDIA 6), Intel (7), Accenture (8), EMC (11), Microsoft (12) and Cognizant (13). The remainder come from retail, finance and publishing.
Review: One of the problems of discussing ICT in the context of sustainability is that the good efforts of ICT suppliers to be as green as possible – shown in these Newsweek rankings - are lumped in with the bad practices of ICT users who have much less regard for the environment, or at least their business processes and practices give that impression.
ICT companies are a long way from being perfect, there is still a huge amount that they can do to make their products greener and more energy efficient. But it does seem that they are a lot better at making their own operations greener than the vast majority of their customers.
The focus for the industry now needs to be on making more sustainable, environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient equipment and educating customers on how to use it. The larger players have succeeded in making their companies greener, now they need to address the challenge of the wider business community. Some have already started to do that, but there's much more to be done.
Of course the growth in the use of ICT for social media is the long-term sustainability challenge, but there’s no easy answer to that one.