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Five unethical companies

Listed below are five of the lowest ranking companies across our product guides. 

All these companies score poorly across our rating system for failing to address issues including human rights, animal rights and environmental concerns. 


Ethical score: 0/20

Company type: online retailer

image:worker at amazon in factory botcott amazon

Why avoid them:  

Amazon never seem to be out of the spotlight for one reason or another. Whether it be tax avoidance (for which they are under a boycott call from us) or the treatment of workers at their fulfilment centres.

They score badly in our rating system for all the policies we rate them on, including environmental reporting, conflict mineral use and supply chain management.

Amazon feature in a number of our product guides including bookshops.

Best Buy alternatives for books:

  • Oxfam books
  • Better World Books
  • Hive

ASDA Walmart

Ethical Score: 0/20

Company type: Supermarket

Image: Asda

Why avoid them:

ASDA (owned by US company WalMart) is a retail colossus. It has monumentally failed to embed corporate responsibility into its operations and supply chains around the globe. This has lead to workers' rights abuses at supplier factories,  accusations of discrimination by staff, and a host of other charges.

Asda feature in a number of product guides including supermarkets

Best Buy Alternatives:

  • Co-op
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Waitrose (online)


Ethical Score: 2/20

Company type: Food processor

Image: Nestlé water protest California

Why avoid them:

Nestle is subject to the world's longest running boycott for the irresponsible marketing of baby milk to mothers in the developing world. The company has also been criticised for a number of other businesses practices including the use of unsustainable palm oil and genetically modified ingredients in its foods.

Nestle feature in a number of product guides including Chocolate.

Best Buy alternatives:

  • Plamil chocolate
  • Divine Chocolate


Ethical Score: 1/20

Company type: Supermarket

Image: Tesco

Why avoid them:

From its run-in with the Serious Fraud office to the squeeze it puts on suppliers, Tesco has long had questionable ethics. The company has begun to take sustainability issues seriously with some positive policies on supply chain management and timber sourcing. The company is still, however, one of the lowest scorers on our database.

Tesco feature in a number of our ethical guides including supermarkets

Best Buy alternatives:

  • Marks & Spencer
  • Co-op
  • Waitrose (online)

Coca Cola

Ethical Score: 2/20

Company type: Drinks manufacturer

Image: Coca cola

Why avoid them:

Coca Cola has had a long history of workers' rights violations at its bottling plants. It is currently under two boycott calls linked to this issue at its plants in Colombia. It has also had a poor record on the environment being accused of taking water supplies from rural communities and falsifying environmental data.

Coca Cola feature in our product guide to soft drinks.

Best Buy alternatives:

  • ChariTea
  • LemonAid

The results of our readers poll for the least ethical companies

As part of our 25th Birthday celebrations Ethical Consumer asked its readers to vote for who they thought was the least ethical company over the last 25 years.

Nestlé 'won' with 15% of the vote, finishing just above Monsanto (14%) and the UK's number one tax avoider Amazon (12%).

Nestlé is currently subject to the longest ever running consumer boycott. For over 20 years Baby Milk Action has called a boycott of the company for its irresponsible marketing of baby milk formula, which infringes the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

In recent years the company has also been criticised for its use of child labour and palm oil, and for not labelling GM ingredients.

This is a really interesting result. It shows that people still feel strongly about Nestlé even after so many years and despite it trying to greenwash its image by using Fairtrade chocolate in some of its products.

The top ten least ethical companies as voted for by Ethical Consumer readers were:

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