Food companies make Global 100 sustainability index

by Jeff Gelski
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TORONTO — Five food and beverage companies were recognized in a 2015 Global 100 sustainability index released Jan. 21 by Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based media and investment advisory company. Tim Hortons was rated No. 11 among the top 100 corporations. Following the restaurant chain were Unilever at No. 22, Coca-Cola Enterprises at No. 26, General Mills, Inc. at No. 49 and Campbell Soup Co. at No. 77.

Tim Hortons, based in Oakville, Ont., and Unilever, based in London, both made sustainability progress in palm oil. Tim Hortons has committed to source 100% of the palm oil it books in 2015 from sources verified as supporting sustainable production.

Unilever in November 2014 said 58% of the palm oil it uses is now traceable to known mills. In its sustainable living plan released in 2013, Unilever said its vision is to double the size of its business while reducing its environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact.

Twenty companies in the 2015 index are based in the United States, which marked the country’s best showing in the 11-year history of the Global 100 index. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Enterprises, a Coca-Cola bottler, moved up to No. 26 on the index after placing No. 78 in 2011 and No. 43 in 2014.

“It’s a fantastic recognition of the progress we have made towards our sustainability plan, including reducing our carbon footprint and our water use, using more recycled materials in our packaging, and becoming a more diverse company,” said Joe Franses, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Coca-Cola Enterprises. “We aim to improve our position even further next year, as we continue our journey towards becoming a low-carbon, zero-waste business.”

Minneapolis-based General Mills by 2020 plans to sustainably source 100% of the following ingredients: vanilla, palm oil, cocoa, sugar cane, oats, dry milled corn, U.S. wheat, dairy (fluid milk), U.S. sugar beets and fiber packaging.

Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., made the index for a third straight year.

“Campbell’s corporate responsibility and sustainability strategies are integrated into every aspect of our business and culture,” said Dave Stangis, vice-president, public affairs and corporate responsibility for Campbell. “Having our performance and disclosure recognized by the Global 100 for a third consecutive year is evidence that Campbell employees continue to make progress in our commitment to being good stewards, as well as advancing our performance.”

Biogen, a biotechnology firm based in Cambridge, Mass., ranked No. 1 in the Global 100 index.

Corporations must pass through four screens to be considered for the Global 100 index. The first screen eliminates companies that are not keeping pace with sustainability reporting trends in their specific industry, such as energy productivity in the automobiles and components industry group. The second screen features a pass-fail test in such financial areas as net profit and long-term debt.

The third screen eliminates companies with an industry classification equal to tobacco. Also, a company is eliminated if it derives a majority of revenue from its defense business, such as weapons manufacturing, for example. The fourth screen looks at the dollar amount companies have paid out on a trailing one-year basis in sustainability-related fines, penalties or settlements.
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