Actions speak louder than words. Over the last two decades, companies worldwide have set goals and made pledges to reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable. The majority of these changes were brought forth due to shifts in public policy and consumer opinion as concerns about global warming and pollution increase. Most companies set their own goals while maintaining legal requirements. Regardless, the facts remain the same — countless companies have fallen behind on their promises. While some truly greener companies do exist, many more aren’t doing all they can.
Keep reading to discover 10 companies failing to keep their promises and five that are going green.
Those Who Miss the Mark
These 10 companies are failing to keep their promises on sustainability and ethics.
This global giant says it’s committed to and invested in sustainability. It has set goals to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. Some initiatives support a more sustainable future for the company, but many of their fundamental values promote unsustainable practices.
At its core, the company encourages consumerism and advocates faster shipping for customers. Suggestions for greener shipping options have been passed-over for fear of alienating customers, but reports show a new plan — electric delivery trucks. If Amazon implements its new fleet of delivery vehicles, it could transform its reputation for being an unsustainable company.
The Netflix business model is unsustainable. Their tendency to start big-budget projects and then end them after a single season is a waste of materials and resources. Additionally, their business model encourages people to use the internet, contributing to collective digital traffic and subsequent energy usage. Fossil fuels provide electricity globally, which means the more internet usage, the higher the daily emissions.
3. Exxon Mobil
This company consistently ranks highly for global emissions. Despite their promises to position themselves for a lower-carbon future, their business model currently relies solely on fossil fuels. Exxon believes its products are essential to modern life, and through producing those products, they are committed to protecting the environment.
Receiving a “D” in Greenpeace’s 2017 Guide to Greener Electronics Report, Samsung has fallen behind competitors regarding sustainability and transparency. While the company continues to publish greenhouse gas emissions and its energy footprint, it fails to publish a list of its suppliers. Without the list of suppliers, it’s challenging to discern the company’s real level of sustainability.
Walmart began its quest for sustainability in the mid-2000s, but it still has a long way to go. While it’s set lofty goals like zero emissions by 2040, average consumers see unnecessary consumption — like single-use plastic bags — used in daily operations and transactions.
3M has been busy, with lofty goals and products spanning 11 different industries. While they’ve reached or maintained many of their growth promises, they’ve fallen short with others. Specifically, they are behind on their goal to improve energy efficiency by 30% by 2025. Instead, they’ve only indexed a 3.2% change.
7. Darden Restaurants
Comprised of Olive Garden, Longhorn, Bahama Breeze and more, Darden restaurants include many fan-favorite chains. Their website describes a commitment to sustainability, but they haven’t updated their report since 2014. The 2015 sustainability goal update reports that they’ve reached their goals, but there is no further information supplied outside of this report.
Starbucks shocked the world by announcing they were going strawless in the name of sustainability. However, the amount of plastic waste from their straw usage is nothing compared to their disposable plastic cups. While they also offer paper cups, a thin layer of liquid-resistant material coats the cups and makes them non-recyclable. As a leader in the food and beverage industry, this company could be doing more to reduce its footprint.
This Swedish fast-fashion giant is known for making promises but frequently misses the targets. With efforts to be more sustainable, they began clothing recycling programs. However, many people pointed out that it would be greener if their clothes would last for years rather than quickly falling apart.
Besides this, the clothing company is known for underpaying its overseas workers. Despite promises, David Savman, H&M’s global head of production, says none of the workers are being paid living wages due to disagreements on what qualifies as a fair figure.
10. Victoria’s Secret
With a lack of transparency, this company has failed to prove it has eliminated toxic waste from the supply chain by 2020. Additionally, it sources cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative but the company does not list the exact amount or extent to which this cotton makes up their clothing.
Those Who Pioneer Change
These five companies are demonstrating their commitment to going green.
Disney seems to constantly expand their business and influence over the world, but they have sustainable practices to support that growth. For example, in 2019, the company purchased a 270-acre solar facility outside of Orlando. With this facility and other initiatives, they are able to reduce their net emissions by 47%, and it is expected that this number will grow as their initiatives increase.
Kemin understands the importance of sustainability through three healthy tiers — people, planet and business. The company continues to seek ways to manage resources responsibly and minimize their environmental footprint. To date, Kemin is the only SCS-certified Sustainably Grown rosemary and spearmint supplier.
3. Burt’s Bees
Burt’s Bees has not sent waste to the landfill since 2011. It also prioritizes responsible sourcing and carbon neutrality. While the goal was to be carbon neutral by 2020, the company reached it four years sooner and has maintained that status to date.
Target has continued to reach its goals and set new goals year after year. One especially noteworthy promise is their commitment to invest up to $5 million in green chemistry innovation by 2022. In 2017 they’d only invested $802,440 but by 2018 the number had tripled and continues to grow.
By divesting from fossil fuels and investing in wind farms instead, Ørsted was able to reduce their carbon emissions by 86%. Ultimately, their eco-friendly practices led them to rank as the most sustainable corporation in the world according to the Corporate Knights 2020 Global 100 index.
Remember to Research
In a survey conducted by Bain, of 300 respondents only 2% of companies expected to achieve or exceed their sustainability goals they’d originally set. As you can see from the list above, many companies make promises but fail to keep them. Always conduct research before investing in a company that markets itself as sustainable or eco-friendly.