Newsweek’s Green Rankings: Perception meets reality

September 21, 2009

Three Greenpeace activists wearing bio-hazard suits, hold old laptops and wear face masks depicting Hewlett-Packard (HP) Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd during a protest outside the computer company's China headquarters in Beijing June 25, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray

Newsweek, encroaching on territory usually mined by activist groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, has unveiled its innaugural NEWSWEEK Green Rankings, which ranks the 500 biggest U.S. companies based on their “actual environmental performance, policies, and reputation.”

The magazine pointed out that compiling such a list was a challenge “because comparing environmental performance across industries is a bit like analyzing whether Tiger Woods or LeBron James is the world’s greatest athlete—there’s an inevitable apples-and-oranges element.”

Still, it believes it’s system makes sense. To come up with the greenest company, the magazine assigned each a “Green Score” that was then compared to the average score of the collective group. You can find out more about Newsweek’s methodology here. But, in terms of weighting, Impact and Policies were each given 45 percent and Reputation received 10 percent.

The results? I’ll let you be the judge. But I found it noteworthy that the top two overall are also the top two PC makers in the world — Hewlett-Packard and Dell. And five of the top 10 are tech companies, blamed for manufacturing products that end up contributing to mountains of electronic waste in developing nations.

What do you think? Will the rankings affect who you do business with? What would your green rankings look like? Leave your comments in the box below.


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Undoubtedly, more and more businesses are concern about the environment, but still I have the feeling it is not a sincere worry but more a Green Washing strategy. The electronic waste problem is a huge burden for Latin American societies, but no company that has branches there seem to care. Since I do not like to criticize with pout proposing a solution, I think companies should have the courage to incorporate into their staff people with deeply rooted notions abou environmental protection and a sincere commitment to protect it. This would have a huge positive impact into the business strategies and the business performance.SincerelyIlan Benyes

Posted by Ilan Benyes | Report as abusive

Well, the survey seems to focus on energy use at such and such company’s headquarters, or employee training in the area of environmental awareness (I have the feeling most employees know more about that than their employers) and so on. These are intangibles if you are a manufacturing company selling product by the ton every month that contain waste of every colour but green. This survey, just as much of the advertising and self promotion by most of the companies on its list as champions of environmental consciousness, could be best described as B.S.

Posted by Laz | Report as abusive

I see and hear a lot of hype about Green Companies. Whether they deserve the mention or rating depends upon the person or persons who rate the companies. A lot depends upon how long their product lasts and if it is a throw away, or if it can be cleanly retrofitted to the latest technology. All of the worlds car and truck companies are guilty of producing throw away products, and the electronics companies and communication companies are also guilty of not producing products that can be retrofitted. It takes a lot of energy to produce and distribute something that is replaced every three to five years. High Profits and Green Companies do not necessarily live together. You have to put in the parts that last and the room for upgrades that minimize the use of new materials.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive

The rankings, as they stand, don’t mean all that much — especially beyond energy consumption. Theme seems tobe: be efficient, so you can make mroe profit.True, full environmental impact varies ENORMOUSLY across industries and types of products. As others observed, a more fundamental problem is the whole model of the kinds of products companies produce, and their full lifecycle — from materials mining on the front end to disposal in some form on the back end!In short, almost none of that, no single step in it, very environmentally optimal in terms of minimal impact, and as a whole, even less so! We’ve created an economic system, world-wide, designed to maximize profit off select steps, and generally convert resources into ultimately garbage at ever increasing rates …In summary, we’re screwed SO big time it is far, Far, FAR from funny!!

Posted by MadAsHell | Report as abusive

I think Laz has it. The rankings are B.S. Along with the Greenpeace ratings they are based on POLICY and PROMISES not on actual performance. Apple, which has done a lot more than most computer manufacturers but has not made forward projections, has a more interesting approach to how this sort of accounting could be done, see related pages.

Posted by Ludwig | Report as abusive