What Does Newsweek’s Naming of Molson Coors as a ‘Green’ Company Really Mean?

Green Rankings or Rank Greening?

Green Rankings or Rank Greening?

Newsweek published it’s inaugural list of the 5oo greenest “big” companies. Molson Coors appears at number 86, and no other brewery makes the list.

But the list is baffling. I make my living by being able to separate green from greenwash. The only way to do that is by comparing solid data. One must ask how well a company is doing in absolute terms and how well are they doing compared to their peers. The data used by Newsweek to rank the top 500 big green companies seems to come from reputable sources: KLD, a well known socially responsible investment firm; Corporate Register, an aggregator of corporate responsibility reports; and Truost, of whom I was unaware until now but they look legitimate.

Yet Newsweek’s ranking methodology is opaque. Molson Coors is listed at 86 even though their Environmental Impact Score is a measly 12.8 out of 100, which places them at 12th in the Industry Ranking, i.e. 11 other large brewing companies have better environmental impact scores. Their “Reputation Survey” score is also pathetic: 18.34 (again out of 100), which puts them in 25th place against their peers.

The only score that seems decent is their “Green Policies” which comes in at 72.51, a respectable second place among the Industrial Rankings of their peers. So, in other words, their intentions are good? Policy is a vital tool in prompting real environmental progress, but I’m baffled by a scoring system that places Molson Coors ahead of all its peers when the data seems to show that they lag far behind in terms of their actual environmental impact.


10 Responses to What Does Newsweek’s Naming of Molson Coors as a ‘Green’ Company Really Mean?

  1. satjiwan says:

    And if one listing from Newsweek is so suspect, how much can the rest of the rankings get any credibility?!?

  2. Ed Reid says:

    Regardless of how Molson Coors scored, the peer comparison in and of itself also leaves a lot to be desired: the top food and beverage company (Brown-Forman) only scored 25.70 out of 100 in their Environmental Impact Score.

    There are certainly many sustainability leaders in the craft beer industry. It sure would be interesting to see how the craft breweries would score in a similar assessment.

  3. Cliff Feigenbaum says:

    How many people does your product have to kill? Here in new Mexico the DWI rate is very high.

    How many car crashes is enough for you?

    To be Green you would have to stop making the product all together.

  4. The brewing industry, where it requires many barrels of water to make 1 barrel of beer,is ripe for green measures. Hopefully there can eventually be consensus on what is truly “green” in this water and energy-intensive industry.
    This posting is very timely in light of the upcoming Great Lakes Craft Brewers and Water Conservation Conference in Milwaukee Oct 26-27.
    Craft brewers could lead industry giants in innovations in the matter of water, sewage, spent grain recycling, urban agriculture and many other fields.
    Michael Horne

    • Veeresh says:

      One thing’s for sure – no way will [the bulk of] Doom Bar be brewed way down in Cornwall, a very long breewr’s dray trip from Britain’s big beer markets.The big downside is that we will now see a big push behind a boring brown beer that gives more interesting brown beers a bad name, at the expense of better brews from still-independent breewrs. I’d hate to see, for example, pubs in my area dropping bers from the excellent Twickenham Brewery or Windsor & Eton breewry from the bar because MC is offering them Doom Bar more cheaply and with lots more marketing cash behind it.

  5. FYI – Leinenkugel Brewing Co. is the platinum sponsor of the GLCB water conservation conference. Miller’s Milwaukee brewery just installed a rain garden to handle surface water runoff in the valley, a part of the city that’s prone to flooding – so there’s definitely more interest in being sustainably operated. In 2003, the Miller Eden brewery in North Carolina started a zero waste program that yielded significant results – you can read about here:

    So, it’s not just policies, but actual work in progress and like the rest of corporate America, there’s more to do…

    cheers, Lucy Saunders

  6. Kevin says:

    I wonder if ACX Technologies is figured into Coors’ green status?

  7. Chris, you make good points about the importance of transparency in these ratings. No rating can tell the whole story, each one is just a lens to look at some a spects of a company and its progress. At Molson Coors, we know we’re on a journey, and certainly appreciate recognition of our good intentions and progress to date.

    We strive to be an ethical and well governed company, that makes quality products that are marketed and sold responsibily, that is a steward of the earth’s resources, that invests in our employees and the communities where we live and work, and that takes our best practices to our supply chain.

    We certainly know that we have a lot more to do, which is why we set annual targets for performance, then measure and publish our progress. Please take a look at our online responsibility report (www.molsoncoors.com/responsibility), and let us know what you think.

  8. beeractivist says:


    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I appreciate what I know of your greening efforts at Coors. In fact, I’ve written articles about it in American Brewer, New Brewer, and elswhere, and I mention your efforts in my book Fermenting Revolution.

    That said, it was difficult to make sense of the scoring in this Newsweek article. That is not to say anything good or bad about MolsonCoors, just that the scoring didn’t make sense. I was actually surprised that your environmental impact score was so low, given that I do know how much you are doing.

    In any case, your efforts thusfar are commendable. That said, we all need to do much more. And I say that as a sustainability director, knowing that my own organization still has a long way to go as well.

    All the best on your road to sustainability.


  9. alquiler de tribunas para eventos…

    […]What Does Newsweek’s Naming of Molson Coors as a ‘Green’ Company Really Mean? « Beer Activist[…]…

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