Environment


 

Because the 'environment' is a very broad area, when we look at company activities we split up the criticisms into five different categories:


Environmental reporting
We've been asking companies for their environmental policies and reports for years. Initially, if they responded at all, they provided us with vague statements about 'minimising impacts'. These days, many companies produce much more detailed reports looking at precise impacts and setting goals for reducing them.

We think that all companies need to be looking foward, reducing environmental impacts across all areas of their business. We also think that companies need to have targets and regular reports verified by other organisations. The only time we 'let companies off' is if they are small or medium sized enterprises aiming to provide environmental or social alternatives, and only if they have a turnover of less than £8 million.

 

 

Company is SME (turnover of less than £8m) providing environmental/social alternatives

Company has no environmental policy or report current report dated within 2 years

current report more than two years old

no evidence of report on website

no reply to written request for report

report does contain at least two, dated and quantified future targets

report does not contain at least two, dated and quantified future targets

report does contain some meaningful carbon disclosure

report does not contain any meaningful carbon disclosure

report does not show reasonable understanding of main impacts

report does show reasonable understanding of main impacts

report is not independently verified

report is independently verified

other publication is critical of Environment Report

other publication lists good Environment Report


Climate change
Climate change is no longer theoretical. It's with us now. We caused it and it's up to us to do something about it. We all need to do our bit for the environment. Some sectors contribute particularly heavily to climate change. These include the airline industry and industries such as oil industries.

Companies making products that have a higher contribution to climate change than other products in the sector (such as cars with low mileage per gallon) will be criticised here, as will companies making misleading claims about climate change.

 

Banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category

Building, financing or lobbying for new roads

Company self-disclosure of an incident in this category

Climate change secondary criticism

Climate change secondary criticism - aggravated

Misleading environmental claims - Climate Change

climate change - aggravated

climate change high impact sector - aviation

climate change high impact sector - Cars/Automobiles

climate change high impact sector - Cement

climate change high impact sector - Fossil Fuels

Other climate change criticism

Positive policy addressing a climate change issue


 

Pollution and toxics
Pollution isn't just about big oil spills or chemical disasters like the 1984 chemical disaster in Bhopal in India which claimed the lives of over 10,000 people. There are tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals in regular use in a wide range of products from shampoo to computers. Many of these chemicals can pollute both the environment and our bodies.

Some chemicals are known as bio-accumulative, which means that they can stay stored in our body fat, for years. Some chemicals - like PVC - have a heavy toll on the environment, not just when they're being produced, but during their lifetime and then later on, when they're disposed of. Many of these chemicals have been singled out by campaigners like WWF and Greenpeace as particularly worrying.

Some companies are phasing out the use of chemicals but we need to keep the pressure up on those that are lagging behind. Pesticides and herbicides also come under this category. Our best buys will always, where possible, be free of harmful chemicals and so will be the healthier alternative, for our bodies, our children and for the environment.

 

Banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category

Health & safety

Breach of discharge consent - land

Breach of discharge consent - air

Breach of discharge consent - water

Manufacture or sale of products found to contain bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals

Manufacturer of bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (e.g. bromine, chlorine, PVC, endocrine disruptors)

Building and/or operating non-clinical incinerators

Company self-disclosure of an incident in this category

Misleading environmental claims - Pollution & Toxics

Other pollution & toxics criticism

Ozone depleting chemicals use/purchase aggravated

ozone depleting chemicals use/purchase

conviction air

conviction air and fine >UK£100,000

conviction air and fine >UK£5,000

conviction land

conviction land and fine >UK£100,000

conviction land and fine >UK£5,000

conviction water

conviction water and fine >UK£5,000

conviction water and fine >UK£100,000

pesticides and/or herbicides

pesticides and/or herbicides aggravated

Pollution & toxics secondary criticism

Pollution & toxics secondary criticism aggravated

toxics release any

toxics release aggravated

Positive policy addressing a pollution & toxics issue

criticism related to unsustainable packaging

unspecified pollution conviction

enforcement notice imposed

waste disposal conviction 


Habitats and Resources
This category looks to specific environmental destruction or exploitation of habitats and resources - whether it's palm oil plantations which threaten the Orang Utan with extinction, pollution incidents which kill off marine environments or the wood which hasn't come from sustainable sources.

It's more important than ever to conserve existing environments and prevent the further extinction of plants and animals. If you want to make sure your shopping doesn't threaten environments, look out for FSC certified wood and paper, buy recycled paper, and avoid products with palm oil in where you can.

 

Banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category

Land use issues (eg greenbelt)

Land use issues - aggravated

Company self-disclosure of an incident in this category

Criticism for impact on endangered species

Misleading environmental claims - Habitats & Resources

Dam design, construction or finance

Other habitats & resources criticism

ECRA timber sourcing policy (2011): Best rating ECRA timber sourcing policy (2011): Middle rating ECRA timber sourcing policy (2011): Worst rating

retails non-FSC wood products - aggravated (eg sale of illegally logged timber)

retails wood products not labelled as coming from FSC certified sources

habitat destruction

habitat destruction - aggravated

unsustainable Fishing

Unsustainable fishing - aggravated

Habitats & resources secondary criticism

Habitats & resources secondary criticism aggravated

unsustainable forestry

unsustainable forestry - aggravated

unsustainable resource extraction and mining

Positive policy addressing a habitats & resources issue

 

Palm Oil
Palm oil is an ingredient used in thousands of products from chocolate to shampoo. However, the mass production of palm oil is devastating the world's rainforests as well as being linked to human rights abuses.

We have been ranking company performance on palm oil for over 15 years now. Until January 2017 companies have picked up marks in three categories for this issue (Habitats, Climate Change and Human Rights).

From January 2017 we will be using our palm oil ranking, which we developed with the Rainforest Foundation, to rank any companies operating in the following sectors: cosmetics, household cleaning products and food.

Companies able to demonstrate a fully certified supply chain for all palm ingredients used by the whole company group, and who also declare suppliers and volumes will receive a best rating.

Companies that are palm oil free - using neither palm oil (CPO), palm kernel oil (PKO) nor palm derivatives - will also receive a best rating.

 

Best Ethical Consumer ranking for palm oil sourcing

Middle Ethical Consumer ranking for palm oil sourcing

Worst Ethical Consumer ranking for palm oil sourcing

 

Download a  pdf document with full details on all ratings