Unilever and Marks & Spencer have topped a global list of environmentally friendly businesses compiled by the United Nations Environmental Programme.

The programme praised the companies’ well-developed environmental policies and their use of green issues to drive brand growth.

M&S’ Plan A eco-scheme features prominently in-store and has been used to drive consumer environmental activity, such as the reuse of carrier bags. Meanwhile, Unilever’s Persil Small & Mighty spearheaded a rapid shift into concentrated liquids.

The UN report said green credentials were particularly important in the consumer goods section due to the high visibility of companies in the sector and the potential for consumer boycott.

Fosters and SAB Miller were named as the top-ranking drinks businesses in the report.