Wind turbine maker Vestas crowned world’s most sustainable firm by Corporate Knights

Danish wind turbine manufacturer recognised in global ranking for its recycling and emissions reduction goals

Vestas aims to have fully recyclable blades by 2030 (pic: Frank Boutrup Schmidt/Vestas)
Vestas aims to have fully recyclable blades by 2030 (pic: Frank Boutrup Schmidt/Vestas)

Vestas has been named the world’s most sustainable company in an annual ranking of firms with more than $1 billion revenue.

The world’s largest turbine manufacturer beat nearly 7,000 other publicly listed companies with a billion-dollar revenue to the top spot, in the 18th annual list compiled by Canadian publishing and research firm Corporate Knights.

Corporate Knights cited Vestas's reduction in CO2 emissions and waste production from manufacturing, aligning its sustainability goals with key suppliers and replacing all internal combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles in its service business, in announcing the company as last year's winner.

Firms are assessed for their performance across a range of sustainability metrics, including clean revenue and investment, to decide their positions in a ‘Global 100’ list, published in January.

Vestas, which rose from 21st place last year, won pole position thanks to progress made on its sustainability strategy. Launched in 2020, Vestas said the strategy had established sustainability performance as “a core priority across the entire value chain”, including across its supplier network.

The company said it has launched an “ambitious circularity roadmap” and that its carbon emissions reduction targets for internal operations were validated by independent scientists as being in line with the 1.5 degree commitment in the Paris Agreement.

Vestas has previously said that by 2030 it will eliminate CO2 emissions for its direct energy use and operations, without the use of carbon offsets, and cut emissions in its supply chain by 45%.

It wants 100% of its turbines to be recyclable by 2040, with the current focus on rotor blades.

Vestas is working on a three-year project to develop recyclable blades which can be broken down into carbon fibre and epoxy resin so the materials can be used again.

Now read: Turbines of the Year 2021: Wind turbine rotor blades

Lisa Ekstrand, vice president and head of sustainability at Vestas, said: “Through establishing sustainability as a priority across our entire value chain, including our supplier network, we have created many more opportunities for collaboration, and for driving maturity and scale for the renewables industry.”

The company said that, currently, only 14% of its employees were female but that its aim is to have women in a quarter of leadership positions by 2025, rising to 30% by 2030.

'More to do'

Henrik Andersen, chief executive and president of Vestas, said: “Vestas has successfully helped our partners avoid more than 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon emissions over the past four decades. 

“Building a more sustainable future for our planet however, demands that we do more.”

Industry players

Among the other wind industry firms featured are Ørsted, which slipped from second place last year to 7th, and Spanish developer Iberdrola, which has fallen six places to 25th on the list. Project developer Engie Brasil Energia is a new entry in 23rd place.

Other companies to make the top 100 include Google-owner Alphabet (36), tech giants Apple (48) and Tesla (52), as well as sports equipment maker Adidas (82).

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