Many companies around the world have made huge strides to make sure that their operations are kinder to the planet. We're not just talking the usual, "Please think before printing this email" message - we're talking some of the world's biggest companies and brands' going that extra mile to ensure that everything they do is considerate of the environment.
With that in mind, here are a list of the twelve most eco-friendly companies around:
1. Munich Reinsurance Group
Way back in 1974, Munich Re undertook its own research into the effects of climate change, long before most companies had even heard of the phrase. Since then, it has continued to strive towards green policy and implementation and in 2009, it achieved complete carbon neutrality at its German headquarters.
In other areas, the organisation also recycles up to 75% of its waste paper.
Depending on which source you read, IBM and Munich Re are interchangeable at the top of the list. In fact, IBM has been working towards a greener future since 1971 and is generally recognised as the corporate forerunners.
Between 1990 and 2000, the organisation cut its electricity consumption by 5.1 billion kilowatt hours - enough to power a whole town - and in the present day, it is working to reduce traffic congestion in major cities right across the world.
The giant furniture manufacturer will naturally need to call on the use of vast quantities of timber every year. However, unlike others in the industry, IKEA have been working with sustainable practices for many years now.
Sustainable forestry techniques aside, IKEA were the first major retailer to switch off incandescent lights in its stores and currently only sells energy efficient lighting.
4. British Telecom
BT is the leader when it comes to eco-friendly companies in the UK and it has set itself some ambitious targets. By 2016, the organisation aims to cut carbon emissions by up to 80% and global carbon intensity is also set to be cut by the same figure prior to 2021.
BT is also investing heavily in wind farm technology and has introduced flexible working and video conferencing in an effort to reduce employee travel.
5. Hewlett Packard
When Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded the company in 1939, their philosophy was that technology could improve society as a whole and that vision included the impact of organisations on the environment.
In 2008, HP became the first hi-tec organisation to report on greenhouse gasses in its supply chain and it is striving to recycle and replace its own products with up to date energy efficient models. In turn, that could eventually save up to $10.4 billion in energy costs each year.
6. Philips Electronics
The Dutch based manufacturer sets itself strict green goals but it keeps its promises. In 2006, 15% of its revenues were derived from green products and it aims to double that figure to 30% by the end of 2012.
Under its in-house policy known as EcoVision4, Philips is also looking to increase its investment in green innovations by 100% to one billion euros and it will also aim to lift its own operational energy efficiency by 25%.
7. Johnson and Johnson
Back in January 2011, Johnson and Johnson announced their aim to become the most socially responsible organisation in the world by 2015. The measures being introduced however, simply build on the company's good work over the last twenty years.
J&J are the second largest user of solar power in the US and over half of its energy is derived from solar, wind and biomass sources.
Nike has introduced many green measures in recent years but it has worked tirelessly to tackle the difficult issues of ensuring environmentally friendly practises in its supply chain. As a result, it performs stringent checks on carbon and water use and chemical toxicity.
At its headquarters in the Netherlands, underground energy storage is used together with recycled aluminium frames in the construction of the building itself.
Internet giant Yahoo actively looks to encourage its 600 million global users to try all they can to go green and Its own 'green' site is widely acknowledged as the best for finding eco-friendly lifestyle tips.
Yahoo practise what they preach however and its new date centre in Lockport, New York uses 95% less water and 40% less energy overall than the majority of buildings of its type.
10. National Australian Bank
Most organisations suggest that with the exception of Munich Re, the NAB is the greenest company outside of the US. It achieved carbon neutrality in 2011 and now purchases its energy from the country's wind farms.
In addition, it has recently spent $20 million on energy efficient products and operations and thereby saved around 59,200 tons of greenhouse gases.
11. Earth Tec
This clothing manufacturer shows recycling in action and uses plastic bottles, amongst other items, in its production process. The organisation claims that for every Earth Tec garment you buy, 12 of those bottles have been saved from the landfill.
However, it also uses corn and coffee beans as well as sustainable wool and cotton in its innovative and eco-friendly range.
Once again, this is another company who come top of many of the 'green lists' that are out there. In 2008 the organisation announced that it would reduce its total emissions by 40% at the end of 2015 and it seems certain to achieve that goal.
Dell also use recycled plastic in their product production process and it will take back any old equipment for free.
The post was written by Paul Smith, Commercial Director of Ecocleen Cleaning Services Ltd.
Follow Paul Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ecocleen