The index was first launched as a pilot in 1995. Some 178 companies took part in the latest index, which covers 2004.
Twenty companies made it into the "Premier League", by achieving high scores of 95% or more (see table). This is eight fewer than in 2003, but the organisers insist that the drop reflects a greater level of scrutiny on issues such as climate change, waste, supply chains and disclosure. For example, they say, questions on waste better reflect the reduce, reuse and recycle hierarchy; while on climate change, companies are now expected to measure impacts from energy use, transport and production processes.
Companies showing the greatest improvement from 2003 include International Power, Alliance & Leicester, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Alfred McAlpine. At a sectoral level, the electricity industry performed best.
The average index score remained stable at 79%, but the average performance score was 74% and the average management score 84%. The organisers suggest that companies are struggling to move from "implementing environmental management systems to delivering real environmental improvements."
Many participants continue to find supply chain management challenging, with an average score of just 64%. Of the two "core" impact areas participants performed best on climate change, with an average score of 74%, but less well on waste, with an average score of 69%.