Steel recycler is named the world’s most sustainable company


The world’s most sustainable company this year is Schnitzer Steel Industries, according to research firm Corporate Knights.

The Oregon, USA-based scrap steel recycler was recognised as leader after achieving a 74 per cent increase in energy productivity. Schnitzer Steel reported improvements in energy, carbon, water and waste productivity in 2021 to lead the 2023 Global 100, a list of companies which Corporate Knights deems ‘to do the most good for people and planet’.

Corporate Knights’ Global 100 is used by companies including Goldman Sachs to construct private wealth portfolios and will be used as the benchmark for a new index fund and exchange-traded fund from Canada’s Mackenzie Investments.

“Schnitzer Steel is the first steel company to top the Global 100,” said Corporate Knights CEO Toby Heaps. “If one of the world’s dirtiest sectors can produce the most sustainable company in the world, then there is no excuse for any company in any sector not to step up.”

Companies are assessed on 25 indicators including sustainable revenue and investment, carbon productivity, racial and gender diversity and must have sustainable solutions at the heart of their business models and invest to reduce their carbon footprint.

Schnitzer Steel achieved the top spot with a 74 per cent increase in energy productivity, 69 per cent increase in water productivity and 55 per cent increase in carbon productivity in 2021 – with productivity meaning using more efficiently when measured against revenue. It also reported 100 per cent of its $2.8 billion revenues and all of its $0.1 billion investment went to sustainable projects in 2021, though the report did not detail the projects.

Though the index does not include profitability, the benchmark has outperformed the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) on an annual basis for seven of the past 11 years.

In 2022, the Global 100 beat the ACWI on an annual returns basis by 2.8 per cent though both were significantly down on 2021 at -15.6 per cent and -18.4 per cent respectively. Between 2013 and 2022, the Global 100 returned 145.1 per cent compared to 115.4 per cent for the MSCI ACWI.

Lisa Ekstrand, head of sustainability at second-placed Vestas, said the ranking was valuable for comparing companies in different industries on the same transparent scale, which is notoriously difficult.

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