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ESG insight: What’s the trend in corporate sustainability?

Elena Philipova
Elena Philipova
Global Head ESG Proposition, Refinitiv

Our recent environmental report examines the impact that industries, countries and companies are having on the planet. Using our ESG data, we discover the trend in corporate emissions and progress on recycling, supply chain risk and water efficiency.


  1. A Refinitiv report uses our ESG database to understand what companies are doing to improve their impact on the environment.
  2. The data shows more companies have committed to take their impact on the environment seriously, although that’s not backed up by specific targets.
  3. A big rise in companies setting specific water efficiency targets suggests this is the next area of focus in efforts to ensure that companies are acting sustainably.

Companies are a leading source of pollution, from energy production to solvent use. Refinitiv has compiled a report that analyzes what industries, countries and companies are doing to reduce their negative impact on the environment.

Download the report here.

Transition to low carbon economies

The report found that 63 percent of companies within our ESG database, which covers 70 percent of the world’s market cap, have a policy to reduce emissions.

This is up 56 percent from five years previously, showing a solid trend of companies committing to take their impact on the environment more seriously.

However, only 35 percent of companies have specific reduction targets around their emissions, meaning many are setting up policies without backing up their intentions.

Recycling to protect the planet

When looking at the average recycling ratio of companies by country, the top performers are spread across the globe, with Asian and European countries leading the way.

Who's recycling to protect the planet?

To counter the amount of waste they produce and to improve recycling, companies are increasingly committing to and publishing their resource reduction policies.

In a similar vein to emissions, many companies have strict resource reduction policies (78 percent). However, far fewer are putting tangible targets in place (30 percent), and only 26 percent have both in place.

Risks in the supply chain

Our data shows that over the past five years, the number of companies with a focus on the environmental impact of their supply chain has increased by 44 percent.

Now more than 50 percent of companies report on environmental policies for their suppliers, based on the Refinitiv ESG database.

Over the last 5 years, companies with a focus on the environmental impact of their supply chain has increased by 44%

The rise of environmentally friendly products

The report has also looked at the rise of environmentally friendly products.

In 2017, 46 percent of companies reported having products or services that are environmentally friendly — that’s an increase from 39 percent of companies in 2013.

Download the report now

Importance of water efficiency

Over the last five years, we have seen a 25 percent increase in companies with water efficiency policies and 34 percent more companies setting specific water efficiency targets.

Interestingly, the number of companies reporting on water policies and targets is far less than those reporting on emissions, but the percentage increase in the last five years is larger.

Could water efficiency be the next area of focus in efforts to ensure companies are acting sustainably?

Reducing energy use

In terms of reducing energy use, the research found that the average energy output (gigajoules) per million US dollars in revenue for a company is 4914.563.

When we look at the highest energy use by revenue, the results are not surprising. It is interesting to note that of the highest energy consumers, the majority have not improved in the last five years.

For further details, please download the full report

Refinitiv ESG data

At Refinitiv, we strive to be the trusted and preferred partner for Environmental, Social and Governance data and solutions, and are committed to bringing to the market an array of best-in-class data, analytics and fully integrated workflow solutions.

We have deep domain expertise and have been providing ESG solutions to the financial industry since the early 2000s.

Discover how to make sound, sustainable investment decisions with Refinitiv’s ESG Data