For its Global 100 sustainability list, Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based media and investment research company, selected 10 Canadian corporations who place as much importance on carbon emissions charts as they do on bank ledgers, but surprisingly, two of the selected companies already made headlines in 2012, not for sustainability, but environmental harm.
The annual environmental honours go to publicly-traded companies with not just top-performing stocks worldwide, but success on a range of 12 sector-specific sustainability metrics that make them eco-role models for sectors like energy, finance and telecommunications.
At number 21, Teck Resources Limited was the top-rated Canadian company on the Global 100 list. The Vancouver-based company, which dates back to the early 1900s, focuses on mining and mineral development with copper, steelmaking, zinc and coal.
Teck’s top honour may come as a surprise to those who followed the eight-year long court trial that determined the company discharged at least 9.97 million tonnes of slag into the Columbia River from 1930 to 1995. The discharge included heavy metals such as lead, mercury, zinc, arsenic and other hazardous materials.
The Teck case came to a head in December of 2012, when a U.S. judge ruled that the company was liable for the cleanup for the U.S. portion of the contamination, which straddled the U.S-Canadian border into Washington state.
The Global 100 list, however, recognizes Teck’s vast efforts to redeem the corporation’s image and repair the physical damage itself. Over the last 25 years, the company has spent billions to modernize its facilities, including a new furnace installed in 1996 that significantly lowered carbon emissions. It has also spent tens of millions of dollars on environmental rehabilitation and remediation.
Teck is working closely with Environment Canada on a sound cleanup plan, the company says.
“Our people live and work in the communities where we operate and they care deeply about doing the right thing for future generations,” Don Lindsay, president and CEO of Teck Resources Limited, stated publicly the day of the Global 100 list’s release. “This ranking recognizes the progress we’ve made, but we know there is more work to be done,” Lindsay added. “Teck remains committed to responsible resource development and to considering people, communities and the environment, now and in the future, in every decision we make.”
The Global 100 list gauged corporate productivity in terms of waste, energy, water and carbon. Heaps says two-thirds of the selected companies are on track to double their resource productivity by 2025.
Toby Heaps, Corporate Knights CEO, released a statement about the 2013 companies on January 23, 2013, the day the Global 100 list was made public.
“The Global 100 are leading a resource productivity revolution, transforming waste into treasure and doing more with less,” Heaps said. “They are steering our civilization away from ecological overshoot and back to a place of balance with our planet.”
“…This makes as many dollars as it does sense,” Heaps added.
The ninth edition of the Global 100 list also measured elements such as safety performance, as well as CEO- to-average-employee pay.
The 100 companies in the 2013 list had aggregate revenues of US$3 trillion (roughly 4.5 per cent of global gross domestic product). They also employed a workforce of more than five million in 2011. The turnover rate of that workforce was also part of the criteria.
Canadian recycler Sims Metal Management (SMM) ranked No. 15 on the list. The company has made the list five years in a row.
SMM President Steve Skurnac said,”it is only by continuing to honor our commitment to protect the well-being of our employees and the communities where we do business that both companies will continue to thrive.”
Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. made the list at number 79, which may surprise some readers due to fines levied by North American regulators over the past two years, one for a massive oil spill in Michigan and another for a gas explosion just west of Toronto.
In July of 2012, Enbridge was ordered to pay $3.7 million over the 2010 Michigan spill; seven people died in the gas explosion, which led regulators to fine the company more than $1.1 million.
Enbridge also has a record of safety violations from 2011. In August, federal officials announced more than $2.4 million in civil fines against Enbridge for maintenance and safety problems in Minnesota, Louisiana and Oklahoma dating back to 2006.
Corporate Knights noted that Enbridge’s performance, although flawed, was compared to companies within the same industry, most of which didn’t perform as well in other sustainability metrics categories.
It’s the fifth year in a row that Enbridge has made the Global 100 list.
“We’re committed to ensuring that every decision we make has the best possible impact on our stakeholders, the environment and the communities in which we live and work. We’re also committed to transparency of our CSR [corporate social responsibility] performance,” Al Monaco, Enbridge’s president and CEO, said in statement just after the Global 100 list was released.
Coming in at number 40 on the Global 100 list is materials company Barrick Gold Corp., the second-highest ranked Canadian company on the list.
Barrick Gold Corp CEO Jamie Sokalsky released a statement the day the list was made public to express the company’s pride over being included. Sokalsky said, “there is a direct connection between corporate responsibility and our long-term business success.”
Other Canadian companies on the list include Canada National Railway Co at number 57; TELUS Corp at number 60; Sun Life Financial Inc. at number 85; and the Royal Bank of Canada in 87th place.
A modified version of this news item first appeared in EcoLog News. To learn how to subscribe, visit www.ecolog.com