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Umicore Tops Corporate Knights’ 2013 Global 100

Belgium-based materials technology and recycling company Umicore tops the Global 100 list of the world’s most sustainable companies, according to Corporate Knights, the Toronto-based media and investment research firm that compiles the annual list.

Brazil’s Natura Cosmeticos, Norway’s Statoil, Finland’s Neste Oil and Denmark’s Novo Nordisk rounded out the top five. At No. 8, pharmaceutical and biotech company Biogen Idec is the highest-ranking US corporation on the list.

In aggregate, the Global 100 had revenues of $3 trillion — about 4.5 per cent of global GDP — and a workforce of nearly 5.3 million in 2011, according to Corporate Knights.

Canada and the United States led the way in country representation, each with 10 companies, followed by Australia, Britain and France, each with nine. Overall, the Global 100 drew companies from 22 countries on six continents.

In addition to Biogen, the other nine US companies in the Global 100 are Intel (No. 14), Cisco Systems (No. 20), Agilent Technologies (No. 24), Life Technologies (No. 33), Clorox (No. 41), General Electric (No. 51), Motorola Solutions (No. 59), Prologis (No. 89) and Campbell Soup Company (No. 99).

US companies overall performed better than they did last year, when only eight made the top 100, led by Life Technologies, which ranked 18th. In 2011, Johnson & Johnson came in second.

Umicore’s revenue ($20 billion in 2011) comes from clean technologies, such as catalysts that reduce pollution from vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Umicore received high marks for its across-the-board sustainability performance, according to Corporate Knights. The investment research firm says Umicore achieved top-quartile performance on six of the 12 indicators used in the project, including carbon (revenue / total GHG emissions) and water productivity (revenue / total water use).

Corporate Knights collected data for the project primarily from Bloomberg and through direct engagement with the 350 companies that made the project’s shortlist, selected from the project’s starting universe of about 4,000 global mid- and large-cap stocks.

The Global 100 uses a two-step methodology. First, it screens companies according to their sustainability disclosure practices, financial health, product types and recent legal payouts. Those companies that remain are then scored, relative to their same-sector peers, on a set of key performance indicators. A different suite of indicators is used for companies in each industry, depending on recent reporting trends in each industry group.

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