The world's greenest companies, 2012 edition

In which countries will you find the greenest companies in the world? The answer might surprise you.

The headquarters of the world's greenest company, Santander Brasil.

For the fourth straight year, Newsweek has released its in-depth look at sustainability within the most wealthy companies in the world.

At its most basic, Newsweek's Green Rankings look at the 500 largest global and U.S. companies and rank them on three broad categories: environmental impact, environmental management, and environmental disclosure.

Based on their findings, here are the 20 greenest companies in the world (with home country and industry in parenthesis):

  1. Santander Brasil (Brazil/Financials)
  2. Wipro (India/Information Technology)
  3. Bradesco (Brazil/Financials)
  4. IBM (United States/IT)
  5. National Australia Bank (Australia/Financials)
  6. BT Group (United Kingdom/Telecommunications)
  7. Munich Re (Germany/Financials)
  8. SAP (Germany/IT)
  9. KPN (Netherlands/Telecommunications)
  10. Marks & Spencer Group (U.K./Retailers)
  11. Tata Consultancy Services (India/IT)
  12. Generali Group (Italy/Financials)
  13. Bell Canada Enterprises (Canada/Telecommunications)
  14. Nokia (Finland/Technology Equipment)
  15. Telefonica (Spain/Telecommunications)
  16. Santander (Spain/Financials)
  17. Fujitsu (Japan/Technology Equipment)
  18. NKSJ Holdings (Japan/Financials)
  19. Infosys (India/IT)
  20. Telefonica Brasil (Brazil/Telecommunications)

If you're not keeping track, Brazil and India each lead the way with three companies in the top 20. If we break it down by sector, financial companies were at the top with seven, followed by IT companies and telecommunications companies with five each.

Of the 500 largest U.S. companies (since there's not much overlap), here are the 10 greenest companies:

  1. IBM (IT)
  2. Hewlett-Packard (Technology Equipment)
  3. Sprint Nextel (Telecommunications)
  4. Dell (Technology Equipment)
  5. CA Technologies (IT)
  6. Nvidia (Technology Equipment)
  7. Intel (Technology Equipment)
  8. Accenture (IT)
  9. Office Depot (Retailers)
  10. Staples (Retailers)

One positive note, nearly all of the companies on both top 20 lists saw their green score increase from last year.

To produce these lists, Newsweek teamed with environmental research providers, Trucost and Sustainalytics. Over 700 metrics were used to determine the overall score—including emissions of nine key greenhouse gases, water use, solid-waste disposal, and emissions that contribute to acid rain and smog. The scores are weighted with metrics falling in the environmental impact and management categories receiving 45 percent (each) of the final score and environmental disclosure receiving 10 percent. (You can read the full methodology here.)

There are a lot more lists over at Newsweek, including the least green companies in the U.S., the greenest politicians, and lists of American businesses by sector.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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