German chemicals firm tops environment league

European chemical, pharmaceutical groups assessed for sustainability, green policy, waste

German company Henkel has emerged as the world's "greenest" chemical firm, in a survey by the independent Hamburg Environment Institute (HUI). Updating results it last published in 1996, the HUI finds significant progress - for example, most firms now operate environmental management systems - but that even leading companies remain far from the goal of sustainability.

European firms emerge relatively well compared with their Japanese and American counterparts, though equal numbers of US and European firms are rated as "proactive," the survey's top category. In the succeeding "active" and "reactive" categories, European firms are in the majority, while at the other end of the spectrum, 11 non-European firms are rated as "passive" compared with eight European ones.

The HUI survey is based on a questionnaire circulated to 50 firms. Environment managers from 28 of the companies participated in its development. Ten firms refused to participate and were excluded from the results.

Ranking of firms is based on a detailed ratings on ten issues, each contributing a weighted share to a maximum total of 500 points. Given most importance by HUI were management processes, sustainability of products and process optimisation, each worth 15% of companies' scores, while environmental policies, information policy and dealing with waste contributed a maximum of 10%.

Henkel emerges as a clear winner in the latest study, with 398 out of 500 points. Other "trendsetting" firms are 3M, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb, all US-based, plus Beiersdorf of Germany and Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever. Though the average level of points awarded has risen substantially across all four scoring categories since the 1996 survey, the number of firms classified as proactive has fallen from 10 to 6, while the number deemed to be active is down from 22 to 13.

With the exception of Beiersdorf, which is included for the first time, all the "proactive" firms were also in the top 10 in HUI's 1996 survey. Some other firms have seen big changes in their relative position. UK-based oil firm BP Amoco has rocketed up by 31 places from rank 43 to 12. Swiss pharmaceuticals company Hoffmann La Roche is up 12 places to 26, while German chemicals firms Schering and BASF are up by nine places and Bayer by 10.

The biggest fallers, meanwhile, are Du Pont of the USA (18 places), Toray Industries of Japan (16), Union Carbide of the USA (15), and a series of other firms falling 11 places including Norsk Hydro, Glaxo Wellcome, Shell Chemicals, Montedison and Mobil.

Follow Up:
HUI, tel: +49 40 439 2091. References: The HUI web site includes project background information. The results of the new survey are published in German in the September issue of Manager Magazin

Please sign in to access this article. To subscribe, view our subscription options, or take out a free trial.

Please enter your details

Forgotten password?

Having trouble signing in?

Contact Customer Support at
or call 020 8267 8120

Not a subscriber?

Take a free trial now to discover the critical insights and updates our coverage offers subscribers.