Top sources of corporate sustainability data

Top sources of corporate sustainability data

In this review of the top sources of corporate sustainability data, we focus on data that is freely available to all. Corporate sustainability is more in focus than ever. Companies are increasingly expected to be accountable for improving their environmental and social impact. Access to reliable and free corporate sustainability data is going to be increasingly essential for businesses and consumers to make informed decisions.

 

 

In this review, we look at the top 10 sources of free corporate sustainability data that can empower companies and consumers on their path to a greener and more sustainable future.

Top 10 sources of corporate sustainability data
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1. B Corp

 

Companies can get B Corp certification through the global non-profit B Corp movement. B Corp says its goals is to help companies to redefine the way businesses operate by demonstrating that it’s possible to do well financially while also doing good for society and the environment. To get certified, for-profit business applicants have to meet B Corp’s standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. B Corps are certified by the non-profit organization, “B Lab”, after undergoing an assessment of their operations and impact, including their environmental stewardship and impact.

 

You can search B Corp for certified consumers goods, professional services and companies that have the B Corps certification. You can delve deeper into their B Corp scores, sustainability assessments and environmental data, which are all posted on the site.

 

We ranked B Corp number 1 in top sources of corporate sustainability data because we believe it is the most consumer-friendly interface for finding out about sustainability in the sectors and companies you care about and use the most. It is quick and easy to search companies and sectors and you can look at summary data or delve deeper into long reports. Whilst no system is perfect, and B Corps has critics who say it is not ambitious enough, it is the more comprehensive standards and assessment process that we know of so far.

 

 

2. Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)

 

SBTi is an international business coalition created by the non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). It provides a framework for companies to set scientifically verifiable climate targets that are in line with climate science. The SBTi also helps companies by defining best practice in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and setting net-zero targets in line with climate science. SBTi has also performed assessments of companies’ progress to meet their targets, although this has been more controversial as the SBTi is mainly funded by participating companies. There are concerns that there are many conflicts of interest around being standard setters and quality assurers, all funded by the private sector.

 

However, you can easily search the SBTi “Target Dashboard” for many major businesses’ GHG emissions reduction targets and progress. SBTi is growing fast in influence, momentum and membership and so it is a great resource for quickly searching the GHG targets for large and multinational corporations. You will still have to dig deeper to find out how reliable and realistic their targets are, but it is a place to start.

 

 

 

3. Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

 

CDP is a non-profit that provides a platform for companies to disclose their carbon data. Its missions is to help businesses understand and report their carbon emissions and climate change targets while enabling other stakeholders, mainly large investors and asset managers, to access this information.

 

You can search CDP’s regional websites for some of their data. Depending on your use, you might be eligible to request free access to some of CDP’s corporate data. You can also look up for free which companies have scored well in the CDP’s annual “A List” of companies that are reporting on, and reducing their carbon footprint, according to CDP.

 

 

 

4. Ellen Macarthur Foundation

 

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation supports businesses to adopt “circular economy” models that aim to (i) eliminate waste and pollution, (ii) keep product components or raw materials in use, and (iii) regenerate nature.

 

An important part of the circular economy process is to phase out single-use plastics from business and consumer models. To find out more about the companies that have signed up to making progress in eliminating single-use plastics with the Foundation, you can search the Foundation’s progress report data by industry, country or company.

 

 

 

5. Net Zero Alliances

 

There are at least three global “Net Zero” Alliances of investor-facing companies who have committed to financing the transition to net zero economies, along with governments and others. You can easily look up who is participating.

 

If you are interested in looking up your pension funds and insurance companies, the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance is a good place to start. The Alliance was started by Allianz, Caisse des Dépôts, La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Folksam Group, PensionDanmark and Swiss Re. You can search for entities or look at the complete list of pension funds’ and insurance companies’ net zero investing targets at the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

 

If you are interested in looking up your asset manager, the Net Zero Asset Manager Initiative lists the members who have committed to align their assets under management with net zero strategies by 2050 or sooner. Search here for asset managers from around the world and their net zero targets.

 

For those wanting to find out their bank’s position, the Net Zero Banking Alliance is a group convened by the UN of leading global banks who have committed to aligning their investing with net zero GHG emissions by 2050. You can search here to find out if your bank has made commitments to financing the transition to a net zero economy.

 

 

 

6. Yahoo Finance

 

Yahoo Finance publishes free Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scores and ratings along with financial data for publicly traded companies. This free resource, using Sustainalytics data, is useful for investors who are interested in the environmental and regulatory risk exposure of listed companies. Some prior knowledge of ESG scoring and ratings is required to make the best use of these systems, which we cover in this article.

 

Simply enter a listed company name or stock ticker in Yahoo Finance here and click on the “Sustainability” tab to find out its ESG ratings.

 

 

 

7. Corporate Register

 

Many companies publish their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability reports online. These reports provide insights into a company’s sustainability goals, initiatives and progress. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon publish extensive CSR and sustainability reports and data on their websites.

 

If you don’t want to search lots of company websites, the Corporate Register allows you to search worldwide through over 25,000 CSR reports. You can sign up for free to search the database and statistics, or you can search for reports using this interactive map:

 

 


 

 

 

8. Consumer Magazines

 

Lots of publications, such as Forbes, Newsweek, and Corporate Knights, release annual rankings of the most sustainable companies. While not comprehensive, these rankings offer insights into major corporations’ sustainability and are usually available for free. For example, here is Corporate Knights’ 2023 global ranking of the top 100 sustainable companies, which are selected for the contribution of their products and services to the global sustainability transition.

 

Increasingly, consumer magazines also review products’ green credentials and sustainability data. They can vary by region although they also cover the global brands. For example, in the USA, Consumer Reports sometimes covers sustainability topics for consumer goods. In the UK, Ethical Consumer magazine ranks and reports on the ethics and sustainability of lots of brands in fashion, food and drink, health and beauty and more.

 

Much of this data is freely available on their websites.

 

 

 

9. Rainforest Alliance and other “ecolabels”

 

To promote more sustainable practices and positive community impacts, some NGOs collect sustainability data and offer certified seals and “ecolabels” to businesses that meet their sustainability standards. Although these NGOs generally do not publish their sustainability data, their ecolabels are often seen by consumers as an endorsement of the proof provided for the sustainability of a product.

 

A well-known example is the Rainforest Alliance’s “little green frog” symbol. It can be found on farm and forest products that meet their environmental, social and economic sustainability standards. You will often find the seal on product packaging and in Amazon listings, but you can also look up here who has the Rainforest Alliance seal. You can search by country, product and commodity to see who is certified.

 

Eco-labelling has been a popular technique for marketing products and for promoting change, but it has not been tightly regulated. The USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a list of ecolabels that meet its framework for Federal procurement. You can check their list of ecolabels for your favorites. From Australia, to the EU and South Korea, regulators are also introducing tougher standards for green labeling and advertising that will require publication of scientific data to back up sustainability claims.

 

 

 

Top sources of corporate sustainability data

 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

10. Stock Exchanges and Regulators

 

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) EDGAR database provides free access to the public filings of listed U.S. corporations. These filings sometimes include carbon and other environmental-related disclosures as they relate to the companies’ operational and financial risks. Simply search by company name or stock ticker.

 

The S.E.C. and many other regulators and stock exchanges around the world are introducing rules for listed companies to publish their carbon strategies and carbon footprint data based on the recommendations of the international Task Force on Climate Related Disclosures (TCFD). You can read more about these new rules in our Quick Guide. Because of these emerging rules and guidelines, in the next few years, corporate carbon and climate change data will become widely and freely available through EDGAR and other regulators’ and stock exchanges’ databases.

 

 

Other good sources of sustainability data

 

Of course, although we have looked at the top sources of corporate sustainability data, there is lots of free and credible general data about many aspects of climate change, the environment and broader Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. 

 

  • Statista is a huge source of statistics in many fields and sectors. Users can search for free with general search terms such as “ESG” or “Sustainability” or more specific terms such as names of companies and sectors or metrics you want to find. Users can browse statistics, reports and topics. Research analysis is behind a paywall, but many statistics are not. For example, when I searched for “waste generated by tech companies”, I found that according to Statista, in 2022 Samsung was by far the leading generator of waste among the largest global tech companies.

 

  • The World Bank publishes countries’ ESG data on its Sovereign ESG Data Portal. This is interesting if you want to  look up facts about specific countries or regions.

 

  • The World Resources Institute publishes data in many areas of major concern for sustainability. You can look at the full list of datasets here, including important data from “Ocean Watch”, “Climate Watch” and “Resource Watch”. This is scientific data translated to be accessible to more people.

 

  • The United Nations publishes global data that tracks attainment of global and country targets for climate change and sustainable development. Two main sites to know are (i) the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) data portal, which publishes national SDG statistics, and (ii) the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) data pages that track countries’ GHG emissions. Of course, “greenwashing” can be as much a problem in governments as some corporations, and so not all national SDG and climate statistics are entirely reliable and the UN is not well-positioned to challenge all the data it receives because it works for countries and not the other way around.

 

  • I think the brilliant new carbon tracker Climate Trace is a must see! Check out our review of Climate Trace here. This site uses satellite data to estimate carbon emissions for millions of assets around the world. You can search their archives, or more fun, use the interactive map to pinpoint major sources of carbon emissions anywhere. We are monitoring Climate Tracker’s progress and efforts closely. Expect it to jump to number 1 in our 2024 review of top sources of corporate sustainability data!

 

Access to free corporate sustainability data is a valuable resource for businesses, investors, and consumers looking to do their part to bring about a more sustainable world. The sources mentioned above offer a range of information that, when used intelligently, enable us to make informed decisions about our investing and consumption. As we work together to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly future, these top sources of corporate sustainability data can be helpful in guiding our efforts.

 

If you would like to know more, subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on ESG and sustainability topics. We are geared towards beginners and newcomers who want to learn more.

 

Why not also test yourself on sustainability with our very popular ESG Quiz and our Clean Energy Test!

Tags :
Carbon disclosures,Circular economy,Climate Change,Community impact,Conservation,Environment,ESG and Sustainability Standards,Waste pollution
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