The annual sustainability ranking, run by global non-profit organisation CDP, scored companies from A to D- based on disclosure, awareness and management of environmental risks and best practices associated with environmental leadership. The scoring was given across three categories using specialised methodologies – climate change, forests and water security.
An A or A- score represented leadership level; B or B- was considered management level; C or C- showed an awareness level; and D or D- was considered disclosure level. This year, more than 9,600 companies disclosed through CDP, with ten awarded A scores across all three categories.
Beauty business holds six out of ten ‘Triple A’ spots
Out of the ten companies with three ‘A’ scores in the 2020 ranking, six worked in the beauty and personal care industry – either manufacturing finished products or supplying fragrances, cosmetic ingredients or packaging. Fragrance specialist Firmenich, personal care giant Kao Corporation, beauty major L’Oréal, paper packaging firm Mondi, fragrance and active ingredient company Symrise, and paper label specialist UPM-Kymmene Corporation all secured A scores for sustainable efforts across climate change, forests and water security. Many more companies operating in beauty and personal care received one or two A scores across the categories.
The other four companies with triple A rankings in 2020 were food major Danone, plant oils supplier Fuji Oil Holdings, tech hardware company HP Inc, and cigarette company Philip Morris International.
Jean-Paul Agon, chairman and CEO of L’Oréal, said: “This triple A score is a recognition of our longstanding commitment to sustainability and the tremendous work carried out by our employees around the world, and together with our suppliers and partners. For the first time this year, ten companies have made it onto the Triple A List. This is worth celebrating.”
Agon said it was great that an increasing number of companies were getting involved in this “powerful initiative”. “They are all doing inspirational work for sustainable development and showing leadership in addressing the massive threats that our world is facing. Sustainability is not a matter of competition: it’s a collective responsibility that we must take very seriously. Together, we make a difference.”
Michitaka Sawada, president and chief executive officer of Kao Corporation, said in an earlier public statement that the company’s entire corporate philosophy was to work “toward a better future” – a foundation that was being fuelled by major changes in consumer awareness on social and environmental issues. “Our mission is to strive for the wholehearted satisfaction and enrichment of the lives of people globally and to contribute to the sustainability of the world,” Sawada said.
In June 2020, L’Oréal unveiled its 2030 ‘for the future’ sustainability program – a plan hailed as a real ‘step up’ by a sustainability expert, and in early 2019 Kao Corporation detailed its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Strategy – known as the ‘Kirei Lifestyle Plan’.
Beauty suppliers continuing with wider sustainability goals
Gilbert Ghostine, CEO of Firmenich, said the supplier’s triple A ranking aligned well with its advancing goal of being carbon neutral by 2030: “With this decade being the warmest on record according to the UN, it is imperative to act fast and be bold on environmental actions and leadership.”
Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Bertram, CEO of Symrise, said its triple A ranking motivated the company to “maintain this course” and “encourage other companies to follow” in its footsteps. “We are committed to sustainability and thus combine economic success with social responsibility,” Bertram said.
Andrew King, group CEO of Mondi, said receiving A scores across all three categories was testament to the company being “sustainable by design”. “We recognise that while more needs to be done, by engaging, taking action and collaborating, businesses can contribute to a better world,” King said.
Pirkko Harrela, executive VP of stakeholder relations at UPM, said its triple A ranking fitted into its signature of the UN Business Ambition for 1.5°C and was “an extremely valuable recognition” given UPM was a forest and bio products company.
Achievement during a ‘historic crossroads’ – sustainability during COVID-19
Out of the 9,600+ companies that disclosed through CDP this year, more than 300 scored ‘A’ in one or more of the categories. The total number of companies disclosing was up 14% from 2019 and up 70% from when the Paris Agreement was signed in April 2016.
CDP acknowledged how importance this was, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We stand at a historic crossroads. With the world facing converging crises in climate, nature, the economy and public health, these must be tackled together with systemic change. We announce this year’s A List against this backdrop (…) The business world shows growing environmental awareness, despite the unprecedented challenges faced in 2020,” it said.
Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP, added: “More companies are taking action, and this is particularly impressive in this challenging year marked by COVID-19. The scale of the risk to businesses from climate change, deforestation and water insecurity is enormous, and we know the opportunities of action far outweigh the risks of inaction. Our A List celebrates those companies who are preparing themselves to excel in the economy of the future by taking action today.”
“…Leadership from the private sector will create an ‘ambition loop’ for greater government action and ensure that global ambitions for a net zero sustainable economy become a reality,” Simpson said.