What does it take to be a green company in 2012?

If you're Canadian, it apparently means you're in the telecommunication or financial business, with a smattering of manufacturing and publishing thrown in for good measure. Newsweek released its Green Rankings list this week, compiling both the top 500 companies in the U.S. as well as a global list.

In Canada, only 18 companies made it to international ranking of 500 (which also included U.S. companies), with top honours going to Bell Canada at number 13. Emerging countries India and Brazil dominated the top 10, along with the U.S., Australia, U.K. Germany and the Netherlands. But which environmental practices was Newsweek looking at?

According to the publication's methodology, the list consisted of the biggest companies by revenue, and then each company was "marked" with a green score based on environmental impact (things like greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste disposal), environmental management (policies and programs that are in place) and environment disclosure (the ease with which the public can access information about the company's environmental impact). While Newsweek didn't reveal the specifics of their findings, they did allow the companies time to respond to them, starting in May.

Earlier this year, Aon Hewitt, a human resource consulting company, released its own list of green Canadian companies, in partnership with Maclean's magazine. Interestingly, this revealed that the greenest companies (rather than the largest companies with green policies) are not one and the same, with smaller operations like Mountain Equipment Co-op and GEF Seniors Housing making their way onto that list.

But either option demonstrates the reality for companies in this day and edge — it's no longer an option to have an environmental policy, it's a must.

SEE: We've broken down the Canadian companies on Newsweek's Top 500 Global green list with a look at their environmental policies — and past problems. Let us know if you agree in the comments below.

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  • Bell Canada

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.bell.ca/">Bell Canada Enterprises</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #13, with a green score of 80 <b>Company policy</b>: "For over 20 years, we have implemented and maintained numerous programs to reduce the environmental impact related to our operations. Using energy efficiently both helps the environment and supports our strategic imperative to achieve a competitive cost structure. " <b>In the news</b>: As the greenest company in Canada, according to this list, Bell has a great reputation for its environmental initiatives — even going so far as to <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1149945--hume-pining-for-bell-canada-s-new-cellphone-towers">disguise telecommunications poles as trees in rural areas</a>, according to The Toronto Star.

  • Telus

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://telus.com/regionselect.html">Telus</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #80, with a green score of 69.9 <b>Company policy</b>: "We embrace our responsibility, integrating environmental considerations into our business and offering innovative communications solutions while protecting the environment. Striving for continuous improvement will guide our approach." <b>In the news</b>: The leaders at Telus are <a href="http://www.environmentalleader.com/2012/08/14/challenges-to-being-sustainable-and-how-to-overcome-them/">very vocal about their environmental plans</a>, stressing their importance to both employees and consumers — previous criticisms of their wasteful packaging <a href="http://www.recycle.ab.ca/uploads/File/pdf/positionletters/20040309_TELUS_Advertising.pdf">in the past</a> have led to an increase in awareness

  • Bombardier

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.bombardier.com/">Bombardier</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #89, with a green score of 68.8 <b>Company policy</b>: A "design for environment" policy, which includes a lifecycle perspective and eliminating hazardous substances, and among other initiatives, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. <b>In the news</b>: Despite manufacturing aircraft, which as many know gives off carbon emissions, Bombardier has <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/cars/bombardier-a-green-trainatm-uses-20-30-less-fuel-than-other-trains-sets-swedish-speed-record.html">successfully created greener trains</a> and also installed the <a href="http://solarwall.com/media/download_gallery/cases/CanadairBombardier_Y96_SolarWallCaseStudy.pdf">world's largest solar air heating system at their assembly plant</a> in Montreal.

  • TD Bank

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.tdbank.com/">TD Bank</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #94, with a green score of 68.3 <b>Company policy</b>: "Our goal is to be an environmental leader by reducing our operational impact and pioneering projects to create carbon offsets that have community benefits." <b>In the news</b>: TD has made the environment an important part of its mandate, and it shows — the bank <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/td-bank-receives-epa-green-power-leadership-award-2012-09-24">won an EPA Green Power Leadership Award</a> and <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/td-centres-living-roof-like-a-farm-in-the-city/article4276138/">created a Living Roof on top of its flagship Toronto branch</a>

  • Power Financial

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.powerfinancial.com/">Power Financial</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #153, with a green score of 64.3 <b>Company policy</b>: "Our limited direct environmental impact is primarily related to the activities of our head office, which has no production, manufacturing or service operations. Over the years, we have focused our efforts on resource conservation, energy efficiency and waste management."

  • BMO

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.bmo.com/home">BMO</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #183, with a green score of 62.2 <b>Company policy</b>: "We are <a href="http://www.bmo.com/bmo/files/images/7/1/BMO_Enviro_Policy_v2_ENG.pdf">committed to minimizing the impact of our operations on the environment</a> and to demonstrating leadership by integrating environmental considerations into our business practices." <b>In the news</b>: BMO <a href="http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/08/25/bmo-meets-carbon-neutral-commitment/">met their carbon neutral commitment in 2010</a>, and continues to do quite well — they were the only company <a href="http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/bmo-recognized-carbon-disclosure-project-as-2012-canadian-carbon-performance-leader-tsx-bmo-1714831.htm">named to the Carbon Performance Leadership Index in 2012</a>.

  • Rogers Communications

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.rogers.com/web/Rogers.portal">Rogers Communications</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #307, with a green score of 56.3 <b>Company policy</b>: "The most significant attributes of our [Environmental Management System] EMS include transparent responsibility and accountability for environmental matters; comprehensive gathering and consolidated storage of environmental information; setting appropriate targets; and ongoing monitoring of environmental performance." <b>In the news</b>: While Rogers does have an e-recycling program, it is, according to Sustanalytics, <a href="http://www.sustainalytics.com/sites/default/files/ewaste_Sustainalytics.pdf">not transparent in how well it works or how much of a priority it is</a>

  • Scotiabank

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.scotiabank.com/gls/en/index.html#about">Scotiabank</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #226, with a green score of 60.1 <b>Company policy</b>: "The Bank takes an integrated approach to environmental issues, whether creating environmental products and services assessing the environmental risk of the Bank's lending portfolio or reducing paper and energy consumption." <b>In the news</b>: The company appears to be pretty serious about its green initiatives, introducing things like <a href="http://becgreen.ca/2012/04/24/new-ecoliving-calculator-from-scotiabank-and-the-sustainable-housing-foundation/#.UJPbJ2_A8sc">an EcoLiving Calculator for consumers</a>

  • Thomson Reuters

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://thomsonreuters.com/">Thomson Reuters</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #238, with a green score of 59.7 <b>Company policy</b>: "We continually strive to make positive steps toward a low-carbon future that combines environmental responsibility with efficient business performance. We support these goals through a variety of corporate initiatives and individual actions."

  • CIBC

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="https://www.cibc.com/ca/personal.html">CIBC</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #252, with a green score of 59.1 <b>Company policy</b>: "CIBC is committed to being an environmentally responsible organization. We demonstrate this through continued enhancements to our environmental risk management policies and procedures, initiatives to minimize CIBC's impact on the environment, promotion of environmental stewardship practices and support of strategically aligned environmental organizations." <b>In the news</b>: The bank has joined up with environmentally friendly organizations <a href="https://www.bullfrogpower.com/12releases/cibc.cfm">Bullfrog Power</a> and <a href="http://www.risiinfo.com/techchannels/environment/CIBC-says-its-paper-supply-is-now-94-Forest-Stewardship-Council-certified.html">Forest Stewardship Council</a>, proving at least part of their commitment.

  • RBC

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/personal.html">RBC Royal Bank</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #254, with a green score of 59.1 <b>Company policy</b>: "We see our commitment to environmental sustainability as an investment in the future of the planet. We make good on this commitment through the RBC Environmental Blueprint which sets out our environmental policy, objectives and our three priority areas: climate change, biodiversity and fresh water." <b>In the news</b>: Generally positive, including <a href="http://www.canadastop100.com/environmental/">being named one of Canada's Greenest Employers of 2012</a> — though they've also been the object of <a href="http://priceofoil.org/2010/03/04/rbc-criticised-for-causing-an-%E2%80%9Cenvironmental-holocaust%E2%80%9D/">protests due to their investment in the tar sands</a>.

  • Great-West Lifeco

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.greatwestlifeco.com/008/index.htm">Great-West Lifeco</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #262, with a green score of 58.6 <b>Company policy</b>: Not readily available, <a href="http://www.ceres.org/incr/engagement/corporate-dialogues/shareholder-resolutions/great-west-lifeco-executive-comp-targets-2011">though the company "supported the Canadian Council of Chief Executives’ climate change policy</a> statement which stated 'we share the goal of slowing, stopping and reversing the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) over the shortest period of time that is reasonably achievable.'" <b>In the news</b>: No reports as to whether or not anything policy was developed following that intention.

  • Loblaw

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.loblaw.ca/">Loblaw</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #284, with a green score of 57.8 <b>Company policy</b>: The environmental priorities: "Reduce our carbon footprint by targeting electricity and fuel consumption, refrigerant leak reduction and waste reduction; Divert waste from landfill by reducing, reusing and recycling in our stores, distribution centres and store support centres; Support municipal recycling programs such as the blue box and blue bag recycling programs across the country." <b>In the news</b>: Though Loblaw retained the five-cent charge for plastic bags in Ontario, has committed to sustainable seafood and a variety of other socially responsible initiatives, its low score can likely be blamed on the very nature of its business — transporting food and the waste that comes with that.

  • Brookfield Asset Management

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.brookfield.com/">Brookfield Asset Management</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #307, with a green score of 56.3 <b>Company policy</b>: "At Brookfield, we pride ourselves on contributing positively to the communities in which we operate. From an environmental perspective, that means we continually strive to minimize our impact on the environment, while balancing the need for economic growth for the company and these communities." <b>In the news</b>: The company is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/12/business/energy-environment/a-cornucopia-of-help-for-renewable-energy.html?pagewanted=all">helping to build a wind farm in New Hampshire</a>, reports The New York Times — but is receiving significant subsidies to do so

  • Manulife Financial

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.manulife.ca/wps/portal/manulifeca/Manulife.caHome/Home/!ut/p/b1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOJ9vZycjN1MTQwsTE2NDDx9TF0CvYzNDQ3cjYAKIoEKDHAARwNC-sP1o8BK3D0NwlxDwrwsTAyM3Aw8TYMNTMzMfYzdA42hCvBY4eeRn5uqX5AbYZBl4qgIANnDdig!/dl4/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/">Manulife Financial</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #318, with a green score of 55.7 <b>Company policy</b>: "Whether we’re reducing waste or conserving energy, our actions underscore our respect for the planet and our concern for future generations. We recognize our obligation to protect and sustain the world’s resources and we manage our real estate in a way that is consistent with that obligation." <b>In the news</b>: All reports indicate the company a real commitment to sustainability, including recycling programs, LEED-certified buildings and volunteering initiatives.

  • Suncor

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.suncor.com/default.aspx">Suncor</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #320, with a green score of 55.6 <b>Company policy</b>: "Environmental stewardship and responding to the needs of our communities is just as important to the economic well-being of our society as upgraders, pipelines or refineries. We are working hard to reduce the amount of water and natural gas we use, limit the level of greenhouse gas emissions and air contaminants, and reduce the length of time it takes to reclaim disturbed lands." <b>In the news</b>: Well, they're developing the oil sands, so that's a difficult foot to start off on right there — <a href="http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/protesters-rail-against-ongoing-clean-up-at-suncor">plenty of protests over things like spills</a> and the <a href="http://www.calgarysun.com/2012/10/22/northern-gateway-pipeline-protest-irks-former-suncor-boss-rick-george">Northern Gateway pipeline project</a> don't do a lot for their reputation, though the company does emphasize <a href="http://www.airwaterland.ca/article.asp?id=8770">the ways in which it is reducing the environmental footprint</a>

  • Magna

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.magna.com/">Magna</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #352, with a green score of 53.6 <b>Company policy</b>: "To: improve the efficient use of natural resources, including energy; minimize waste streams and emissions; and implement effective recycling programs in our manufacturing operations, through the use of locally set continuous improvement targets, and to utilize innovative design and engineering to reduce the environmental impact of our products during vehicle operation and at end of life." <b>In the news</b>: An <a href="http://www.environmentalleader.com/2011/08/30/ontario-magna-investing-441m-in-evs/">investment in electric vehicles</a> is a good leg up, the fact remains this is a manufacturing company, so will always have waste.

  • Power Corporation Of Canada

    <b>Company</b>: <a href="http://www.powercorporation.com/">Power Corporation Of Canada</a> <b>Ranking</b>: #457, with a green score of 45.2 <b>Company policy</b>: "Our limited direct environmental impact is primarily related to the activities of our head office, which has no production, manufacturing or service operations. Over the years, we have focused our efforts on resource conservation, energy efficiency and waste management." <b>In the news</b>: No reports on environmental practices, though <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/05/15/power-corp-demonstration.html">some protests against the company in general</a>.