The Cooperative is a pioneer when it comes to committing to fair trading. It had the UK’s first Fairtrade bananas, and its entire own-brand selection of sugar, tea, chocolate, roses and cotton wool carry the Faitrade mark.
It has also been rated best for our Supply Chain Management category for having robust documentation. For example, the ‘Coop Way’ report monitors its corporate social responsibility and showed a commitment to auditing its whole supply chain.
However, it has been caught up in some scandals that have affected the UK food retail sector. For example, an investigation by the Guardian revealed slave labour used in the production of seafood sold by the likes of the Co-op and other supermarkets.
When it comes to the environment, The Co-op has some progressive targets. For example, it will make 80% of packaging ‘easy to recycle’ by 2020. It has already smashed its 2020 target to reduce direct greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 50%, 3 years ahead of time.
Additionally, it gets a best rating for its toxic policy in its own brand cosmetics and household products. It has removed the use of triclosan, parabens and phthalates in these. All three chemicals are linked to health effects ranging from hormone disruption to breast cancer. Find out more about these harmful chemicals in our feature on toxic beauty.
The Co-op hasn’t used animal testing on own brand toiletries or household products since the 90's. These products have been certified by the Leaping Bunny. However, it only receives a middle rating because it hasn’t committed to a policy on prohibiting the sale of other brands using animal testing.
While The Cooperative has an animal welfare policy, it doesn't state that all meat and dairy products have to be free-range or organic. Therefore it lost a mark under both Animal Rights and Factory Farming.
The Co-op is a Fair Tax Mark accredited company that commits to paying a fair rate of tax. This is unlike Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, which all receive our worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance.