The sustainable “dirty dozen”

By John Parnell

cement factory source flickr_eioua

The SAM KPMG report identifies the sustainability leaders in 58 industries (Source:Flickr/Eioua)

Following the release of the comprehensive SAM KPMG Sustainability Yearbook, RTCC examines the cleanest, most sustainable companies, in some of the world’s traditionally dirtier sectors.

The index looks at each sector individually picking out a set of criteria unique to that industry.

We’ve picked out a “dirty dozen” of sectors, based on their direct or indirect CO2 emissions, or their potential for environmental destruction.

Reducing emissions dramatically and protecting the environment will not happen by making the green greener. Real progress comes from cuts by those making the most impact. Cement and aluminium manufacturers make are large direct emitters.

Our clean “dirty dozen” is spread across a large geographic footprint and includes some familiar names.

A full explanation of the SAM KPMG index’s methodology and the full set of results is available in the report.

The RTCC Clean Dirty Dozen

Pipelines: TransCanada, Canada

Where have I heard that name before? The firm behind the hugely controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline topped its category. Companies were judged largely on the sophistication of their leak prevention systems and environmental reporting. A non-leaking pipe is not only cleaner in the immediate vicinity, its also more efficient.

Airlines: Air France-KLM, France

Soaring oil prices mean airlines are now highly incentivised to cut fuel use. Several have begun meaningful bio-fuel trials. Airlines were judged on, among other criteria, the age of their fleet, efficiency of their route network and the standards set for their suppliers.

Oil and Gas production: Repsol, Spain

Several major factors contribute to the overall sustainability of oil producers. The cleanliness of the end, refined product; the environmental management during the extraction of fossil fuels and the presence of strategies to mitigate against climate change and pursue clean energy sources all contributed to the category’s judging.

Mining: Xstrata, Switzerland

Mining companies were judged on the energy consumed in extraction and transportation of mined resources. The mine sites also create multiple environmental issues including risks to water and the creation of mineral waste materials, all requiring close management. The continuing degradation in the quality of ores available, means larger volumes are needed.

Aluminium: Alcoa, United States

Although the energy required for Aluminium smelting has halved during the last decade, it remains hugely energy intensive. The report looked not only at energy efficiency, but issues of waste management and effects on local biodiversity.

Industrial Transportation: PostNL, Netherlands

According to the World Economic Forum, almost 6% of humanity’s total CO2 emissions are attributed to the logistics industry. Fleet and fuel efficiency and smarter stock management can reduce the industry’s impact substantially.

Electricity: EDP Energias de Portugal, Portugal

While the obvious parameter for electricity firms is the way that they generate power, all major providers are tied to fossil fuels to one extent or another.  A secondary key piece of criteria is in the distribution and transmission network, which can greatly improve the efficiency.

Chemicals: DSM NV, Netherlands

Chemical companies were judged on their environmental reporting, pollutant reductions and the on eco-friendly changes made to their product portfolio such as replacing more harmful components with renewable or natural substitutes. Firms were also rated on the level of education provided to customers to ensure personal and environmental safety.

Heavy construction: Hyundai Engineering & Construction, South Korea

This resource heavy industry has been forced to use materials as smartly as possible given the financial pressures on property development. Related transportation and sensible water use and environmental protection also played a part.

Steel: Rautaruukki Oyj, Finland

Energy and resource heavy, the steel industry is finding new ways to recycle waste by-products back into the production process. Stricter regulations mean emissions and pollutants are being reduced. Competition from new markets such as Russia and China are forcing firms to search for new cost efficiencies, which frequently also means less carbon dioxide.

Building materials: Siam Cement, Thaland

Around 5% of the world’s annual CO2 emissions are from the manufacture of concrete. As another energy intensive process, manufacturers’ were judged on efficiency of production and logistics as well as the relative energy saving capabilities of their products.

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