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Our Ethical Ratings

Ethical Consumer provides the most in depth research into corporate ethics available to the public.

We analyse in detail the policies and actions of hundreds of companies with respect to climate, workers, animals, tax conduct and company ethos

The scores on our Ethical Shopping Guides are compiled from this research to give an overview of how the brands and products within different markets compare on a wide range of ethical issues.

Up to date

The website is updated live with the latest scores and stories from our extensive research database. The database is the product of over 30 years’ research, with new data being added every day by our team of dedicated researchers.

In depth

While many ethical buying guides focus on the product,  Ethical Consumer provides unique and in-depth insight into the ethics of the companies behind the brands.

After all, isn't it better to buy a cruelty-free product from a company that doesn't test its other products on animals? Or recycled toilet paper from a firm that isn't cutting down virgin forests for its other ranges?

The activities of each company are examined by our team of highly trained researchers and measured against our ethical criteria based on the highest industry standards.


The research and rationale behind every rating is available to view on our website. By looking deeper into the Ethical Shopping Guides or by visiting our company profile pages, subscribers can see which companies own each brand, and their ethical ratings across all the different categories.

Scoring system pre February 2024

Each company received a score out of 15, while individual products could score a maximum of 20 points.

All companies started with a score of 14, and points were taken away for criticism received in each of our categories (see below for a full list of categories and sub-categories).

Companies could score a positive mark under the Company Ethos category if they committed to certain things (e.g. Fairtrade) across their whole company group.

Product scores were based on the company score, with additional marks being added for positive features (such as being certified fairtrade or organic).

A product on a Shopping Guide score table could therefore score more highly than the company that owns it.

In early 2024 we will multiply all the scores out of 20 by 5 so that they will become scores out of 100 and inline with the new scoring now rolling out across the system. The stories behind the scores will still be able to explain the detail.

Scoring system post February 2024 

We are beginning a transition to a new rating system, that will focus more on the most relevant issues in each market, as well as allowing more differentiation within each column. 

Each brand will be scored out of 100, starting at 0 and gaining or losing marks depending on their policies and practice. 

The score tables in each new guide will always include columns on Climate, Workers, Animals, Tax and Company Ethos, as well as bespoke columns depending on the market. For example, a Materials column in a clothing guide. 

New ratings for core categories

Our Animals rating looks at:

  • Vegan policies.
  • No use of animal products (without explicit vegan policy).
  • Vegetarian policies.
  • Policies to prevent the worst welfare outcomes. 
  • Involvement in high risk sectors for particularly poor animal welfare outcomes. 
  • Third-party criticism related to animal rights or animal welfare.

Our Climate rating looks for:

  • A credible, detailed discussion of how a company  has made emissions cuts in the past and how it will make them in the future.
  • Full annual public reporting of its emissions – all three scopes.
  • A  future target for all scopes that is either approved by the SBTi or with cuts of 100% of  scope one and two, and 67% of scope three, by 2050.
  • If the company works in developing new extraction fossil fuel projects, building new fossil fired power stations or in doing anything with coal.
  • Highly misleading public messaging on climate change.
  • Credible third-party criticism on what a company is doing on the climate.

Our Company Ethos rating looks for:

  • Membership of lobby groups.
  • Executive pay over £1million.
  • Production in arms and military.
  • Production in mining, logging or fossil fuels.
  • Production in pesticides, GM, mega farms.
  • Significant boycott in line with our ratings.
  • Other significant third-party criticisms.
  • Positive company structure including not-for-profit.
  • Living Wage certification.

Our Tax rating looks for:

  • Subsidiaries on our list of tax havens.
  • The Fair Tax Mark accreditation.
  • Credible third-party criticism for tax avoidance.
  • A  clear public tax statement confirming that it is company policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity and a narrative explanation for what each subsidiary located in a tax haven is for, and how it was not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.
  • Public country by country reporting of sales made and tax paid in each jurisdiction that does not show likely avoidance activities.

Our Workers rating looks at:

  • Supplier code of conduct.
  • Support for worker-driven monitoring in the supply chain.
  • Company publishes suppliers (higher score the more tiers published).
  • Choice of place of manufacture in relation to labour rights.
  • Purchasing/buying policies and practices.
  • Living wages commitment, action plan, methodology, achievements.
  • Work with trade unions in the supply chain.

Updating our 100+ guides takes time and until we have cycled through them all, you will continue to find guides still using our previous rating system. For that reason, we have kept the details below. 

Our sources

Our research is compiled from a wide range of primary and secondary sources. We request information directly from the companies we rate, and assess their policies on areas such as environmental reporting, animal testing, the management of workers’ rights at supplier factories and much more.

We also incorporate published research from campaign groups such as Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and War on Want, as well as other news sources, public records and directories.

Each piece of research, or ‘story’ we add to the database affects a company’s score for five years from the time it was last updated. Stories older than five years will remain on the database as a historical reference but will no longer impact company scores.

The ratings categories (up to Feb 2024)

For more detail on our new rating system as of February 2024 please see ‘Scoring system post February 2024’ above. The information below relates to the guides still using our previous scoring system, until we have updated all guides with the new system. 

Our previous ratings consisted of around 300 subcategories in nineteen key areas, which were split between five main categories:


Our research on animals is divided into three main areas:

  • Animal Testing
  • Factory Farming
  • Animal Rights & Cruelty
Learn more


As 'environment' is a very broad area, we use five different categories:

  • Environmental Reporting
  • Climate Change
  • Pollution & Toxics
  • Habitats & Resources
  • Palm Oil
Learn more


Our 'People' category is divided into 5 areas of research:

  • Human Rights
  • Workers' Rights
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Irresponsible Marketing
  • Arms & Military Supply
Learn more


Our research into a company's politics is divided into 5 areas:

  • Anti-Social Finance
  • Boycott Calls
  • Controversial Technologies
  • Political Activity
  • Tax Conduct
Learn more


We have two categories rewarding those brands making a positive impact: 

  • Company Ethos 
  • Product Sustainability (organic, fairtrade, energy efficient, vegan & vegetarian products)
Learn more