How sustainable are your favourite brands?

News, blog and backgrounds about the sustainability scores of brands

Soda brand performance fizzles out

There’s nothing more refreshing than a can or bottle of ice-cold soda. What is less refreshing is the sustainability performance of many popular soda brands. Soda brands face challenges with regards to energy and water use, the need for sustainable and recyclable packaging, and ethically sourced sugar and other raw materials – and Rank a Brand’s latest ranking in this sector shows that many soda brands are not up to scratch.

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Rank a Brand reviewed the sustainability performance of 29 soda brands. This review includes an assessment of brands’ policies on climate protection, environmental protection and labour rights. The overall conclusion to be drawn is that there is still a lot of work to be done for soda brands to improve their performance. Only one brand, Lemonaid, scored a B-label, but 26 out of the 29 brands scored either a D- or E-label.

The high scorers
Lemonaid, a German brand, was by far the best performer in the sector – scoring 14 of a possible 24 points. Lemonaid performs especially well with its labour policy, and uses environmentally certified sugar and raw materials for its products. Two other German brands, Bionade and Premium-Cola, earned a C-label, both scoring 11 out of 24 points. Bionade scored well on its environmental policy, while Premium-Cola does better on its labour policy.

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The general trends
As mentioned, the overall trend across all brands is poor. While almost all brands have a policy to deal with greenhouse gas emissions, and a number of brands have environmental protection and fair labour policies – it is important to stress that these are only policies, they are not an indicator of a brand’s actual performance. The brands owned by soda giants Coca-Cola (which includes Fanta and Sprite), PepsiCo (which includes 7UP), Dr Pepper, and Red Bull, all scored either D- or E-labels. In addition, the brands Raak and The Original London both scored zero points.

When it comes to reporting on concrete results, only 18% of brands reported a reduction or compensation of their climate footprint by at least 10% in the last five years. Only two brands, Bionade and Premium-Cola, sufficiently report on their use of energy from renewable sources. Finally, despite 42% of brands publishing a fair labour policy, only one brand (Lemonaid) purchases all its ingredients from socially certified sources.

Support our work
To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. If you want to support the work of Rank a Brand we invite you to become a Friend of Rank a Brand. We ask our Friends to make a contribution of €25 per year, or a higher amount if you can afford it, to enable our work. You will have a say in the sectors and brands that we will assess and can contribute to the further development of our criteria. See our website for more info and please share this post.

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Beer must be consumed, but also manufactured responsibly

When one considers beer brands, they most likely think about the importance of responsible consumption rather than responsible production. Of course, responsible consumption of beer is paramount. However, beer brands have a number of unique issues compared to other sectors, including efficiency per liter produced (water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions) and the opportunity to use environmentally preferred ingredients, such as organically certified.

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Rank a Brand reviewed the sustainability performance of 33 beer brands. For this research, we looked at the performance of beer brands on multiple issues in the areas of climate and the environment. The conclusion was that, in general, beer brands have considerable room for improvement given that out of 33 brands, only one brand, Neumarkter Lammsbräu, achieved a B-label, while more than one-third of the brands received an E-label. If you would like more information on the general trends in the Beer sector, please read the Beer Ranking 2016 Report.

The high scorers
The best performing brand is Neumarkter Lammsbräu, receiving 16 out of a possible 23 points, and resulting in a score of about 70%. With this score, the brand receives a B-label, meaning it is on track towards sustainability. Among others, Neumarkter Lammsbräu performs notably well in the area of reporting the climate footprint of sourcing its ingredients, which all other brands fail to do. The next highest performing brand, receiving a C-label, is Gulpener. This is the only brand other than Neumarkter Lammsbräu that reports the use of organic or otherwise environmentally certified raw materials for at least 90% of its production volume. Brand, a C-label brand is notably the most efficient when it comes to kilograms of greenhouse gases released per litre produced, achieving a rate below 5,5 kg CO2/litre.

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The general trends
The overall performance of the industry is not impressive. Out of the 33 brands, 12 received lower than 9% of the points possible, resulting in an E-label, meaning responsible consumers should avoid buying these brands until they show better performance. The lowest performing brand is the bavarian wheat beer Erdinger, receiving a score of zero.

A positive note is that all but one brand have published some sort of policy to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and the majority of brands have also described clear objectives to minimize the environmental impact of packaging. However, these are only policies, and do not necessarily translate into concrete initiatives and convincing results. Less than half of the brands disclosed verifiable climate footprints. Furthermore, concrete reporting on the use of at least 25% renewable energy was only reached by two brands: Gulpener and Rothaus.

Support our work
To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. If you want to support the work of Rank a Brand we invite you to become Friend of Rank a Brand. We ask from our Friends a contribution of €25 per year, or a higher amount if you can afford it, to enable our work. You will have a say in the sectors and brands that we will assess and can contribute to the further development of our criteria. See our website for more info and please share this post.

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Sustainability cosmetics sector not fit for beauty contest

For the first time, in cooperation with StoereVrouwen (translated as ‘Tough Women in a powerful way’), Rank a Brand took a look at the sustainability performance of 30 cosmetics brands. For 10 years, StoereVrouwen has been a Dutch platform and campaign agency that has encouraged consumers to realize the power of their purses by spending their money on brands and companies who they can endorse. StoereVrouwen puts sustainability on the agenda with campaigns like Natural Beauty Case, Strip for Fair Fashion, and Fair Valentine.

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For this research, we looked at the performance of cosmetics brands on multiple issues in the areas of climate, environment, animal welfare, health, and labour conditions. The full report can be found here. The general finding was that, just like in most sectors, the great majority of brands still perform poorly. Luckily, there are multiple exceptions for ethical consumers.

The winner(s)
The best performing brand is Weleda, receiving 17 out of a possible 26 points, which results in a score of 65%. With this score, the brand receives a B label, meaning it is on track towards sustainability. Weleda performs especially well in the area of environmental and health policy. The brand only uses natural ingredients for its products, and does not use possible harmful substances like synthetic fragrances. Weleda also refrains from animal testing; uses mostly renewable and/or organic ingredients; and has thorough policies in place to reduce its water footprint, material footprint, waste, and packaging.

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With a score of 58%, Dr. Hauschka, Logona and Santé also receive a B label. Just like Weleda, they perform well in the area of environmental and health policy. This is achieved by initiatives including limiting the use of hazardous substances, not using petroleum-based ingredients at all, and minimizing waste (including reporting on its annual waste materials footprint). Four other brands perform reasonably well: Botanique (54%), Lavera, Living Nature, and Zao (all three with a score of 46%). For this level of performance, they achieve the C label, meaning they are on their way towards sustainability, but still have plenty room for improvement in terms of more specific reporting.

The general trend
The general performance of the industry is not something to be proud of. Out of the 30 brands, 22 received a score lower than 30%. Of these brands, 9 received the lowest possible label, the E label, meaning responsible consumers should avoid buying these brands until they show better performance. Among these worst performing brands are well-known names like Estée Lauder, Rimmel London and Aveda.

A positive note is that all brands have published some sort of policy to reduce their carbon emissions. Unfortunately, this policy is the only initiative many of these brands have undertaken in regards to climate change. About a quarter of the brands disclosed their carbon footprints. However, concrete reporting on the use of at least 25% renewable electricity was only reached by one brand: Botanique. Other brands state that they are using renewable energy as well, but reporting on type of energy as well as its sources and additionality of supply are not yet clear enough to receive full points for this criterion.

Another area where a lot of ground needs to be covered is labour conditions. As many of the ingredients come from low wage countries, brands need to take responsibility for the ethical treatment of workers in these countries. Although all of the brands scored poorly on three of the four criteria in this area (no or insufficient information is published), the majority of the brands (77%) already purchase tropical ingredients from plantations that are socially certified to have no child and/or forced labour, and provide a better living standard for the farmers, at least to some extent.

Support our work
To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. If you want to support the work of Rank a Brand, we invite you to become Friend of Rank a Brand. We ask from our Friends a contribution of €25 per year, or a higher amount if you can afford, to enable our work. You will have a say in the sectors and brands that we will assess and can contribute to the further development of our criteria. See our website for more information and please share this post.

Do you want to be kept up to date about our research of the sustainability performance of well-known brands? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, subscribe to our newsletter through our website.

Top brands failing on cotton sustainability

Cotton is one of the world’s most commonly used textiles. However, the production of cotton has led to serious issues regarding environmental impact and labour conditions of cotton farmers. Although various sustainability initiatives exist, many problems and challenges remain, and the overall picture of cotton market sustainability is unclear. In order to shed light on current progress and where further action is needed, Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK), Solidaridad, and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have commissioned Rank a Brand to research the major cotton-using companies on policies, actual uptake, and traceability regarding more sustainable cotton; i.e. organic cotton, Fairtrade cotton, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Better Cotton (BCI) or recycled cotton.

The report creates a transparent overview of the current sustainable sourcing performance of cotton-using companies and offers recommendations for improvement. We studied 37 companies that are estimated to source the most cotton globally, and scored them on three dimensions: policy, actual uptake, and traceability. The scorecard provides a comparison of each company’s performance in regards to sustainable cotton.

The full report can be found here.

Summary of main results

In this research, the maximum achievable score was 19.5 points. No company achieved this maximum score, mainly due to the fact that no company uses 100% more sustainable cotton or is fully transparent on their policies and on the sourcing and manufacturers of their cotton. Of the 37 companies evaluated, only eight companies scored at least 3.0 out of 19.5 points. IKEA Group is the best performing company, with a score of 12.0 points. C&A Global (9.0 points), H&M Group (9.0 points), and Adidas Group (7.75 points) also show some progress on sustainable cotton policies, actual uptake, and supply chain traceability. Six companies scored less than 1.0 point. Twelve companies provided little or no information on their sustainable cotton policies, and therefore, scored 0 points. Companies could be doing better than these results reflect, but not communicate their policies and practices to consumers. It is also possible that some brands do better than the company as a whole, as sustainability practices can vary significantly between different brands owned by the same company. We have assessed at company level because PAN UK, Solidaridad, and WWF expect entire companies shift to more sustainable cotton uptake.

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A number of companies participate in sustainable cotton initiatives. For example, ten of the assessed companies participate in the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). Companies that participate in BCI support actions on minimizing the use of highly hazardous pesticides (HHP), improving working conditions, addressing biodiversity issues, and reducing water consumption. Some companies also participate in other collaborative initiatives and/or cotton programmes. In addition to using more BCI, Fairtrade or CmiA cotton, some companies focus on using organic and/or recycled cotton.

The top scoring company for this report, IKEA Group, uses about 78% of its cotton from more sustainable sources according to the standards applied in this research. Most of the companies analysed do not have clear policies on sustainable cotton. In general, there is still a significant lack of information on sustainable cotton policies, actual uptake, and supply chain traceability in the industry.

Main conclusions

While there are multiple companies that work hard to set the right example, there is significant room and need for improvement in company sourcing and reporting on sustainable cotton, as well as an opportunity to drive market transformation. This research highlights positive developments and outcomes in regards to these companies’ achievements in sustainable cotton. This research clearly demonstrates the widespread absence of publicly available information, concerning the topics addressed for the research conducted for this report. While major brands and manufacturers have published various policies regarding commitments to using more sustainable cotton, traceability throughout the entire supply chain of cotton is necessary to further report on the uptake and implementation of these policies.

Main recommendations

For low scoring companies, we recommend that these companies adopt a policy for more sustainable cotton. After adopting a policy for more sustainable cotton, companies should also adopt a time bound and public target to source more sustainable cotton. Companies may also choose to take part in an organization like Better Cotton Initiative. Companies that have already implemented these initiatives and have received relatively higher scores can continue to improve by mapping their supply chain and using traceability tools.

Multiple standards can be applied for the sourcing of more sustainable cotton. Based on the WWF Certification Assessment Tool, we find that the following currently available standards are the most credible for more sustainable cotton at the production level:

  • Organic cotton,
  • Fairtrade cotton,
  • Cotton made in Africa (CmiA),
  • Better Cotton (from the Better Cotton Initiative – BCI).

Another, non-standardized sustainable option is recycled cotton.

The leading companies assessed in this report made good progress by collaborating with the Better Cotton Initiative. Still, to achieve a sustainable cotton supply chain, more action is needed. Cotton-dependent companies should take responsibility for their impacts and encourage the sourcing of more sustainable cotton. These companies need to continue sending market signals by increasing their purchases of cotton from credible sustainability programmes and reporting transparently on their cotton sourcing. In doing so, these companies would make a major impact for the better, both environmentally and socially.

 

Support our work

To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. If you want to support the work of Rank a Brand we invite you to become Friend of Rank a Brand. We ask from our Friends a contribution of €25 per year, or a higher amount if you can afford, to enable our work. You will have a say in the sectors and brands that we will assess and can contribute to the further development of our criteria. See our website for more info and please share this post.

Do you want to be kept up date about our research of the sustainability performance of well-known brands? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, subscribe to our newsletter through our website.

Electronics Brands: It’s Time to Super Charge Sustainability

One Electronics brand (Fairphone) sets an example while three other brands (Asus, Apple, and HP) have made progress for the Electronics sector in regards to sustainability by embracing the challenges and opportunities associated with the Electronics sector. One brand, Fairphone, received a “B” label, and three brands, Asus, Apple, and HP received a “C” label for the Electronics sector ranking. The remaining 15 brands received either a “D” or “E” label. Due to the challenges associated with the Electronics sector, Electronics brands must influence sustainability during the entire lifecycle of their products, from mining minerals and choosing chemicals, to responsible disposal or recycling at the end of a product’s useful life.

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However, many Electronics brands have not yet capitalized on the opportunity to implement initiatives in regards to issues such as product energy efficiency, extension of products’ useful life, product recycling/takeback, elimination of toxic materials/suspect chemicals from products, and avoidance of conflict minerals. The Electronics sector has the opportunity to “supercharge” efforts to be more sustainable, and place these initiatives at the forefront of this sector’s operations. However, many brands have not become actively involved in the unique opportunities the Electronics sector presents.

At the beginning of the electronics life cycle, minerals are mined from the Earth and toxic materials/suspect chemicals are used to assemble electronic products. For example, according to Greenpeace, common plastics and flame retardants used in electronics result in some of the most toxic chemicals known, especially during production at the end of a product’s useful lifecycle. The process of mining electronic products’ materials is also a sustainability issue, especially for conflict minerals. These minerals are mined in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo or surrounding nations, and profits from these minerals support human rights violations in these countries. A number of initiatives have been developed to address conflict minerals.

During a product’s useful life, brands have the opportunity to make their products more sustainable while they are in use by consumers. Certifications such as Energy Star indicate reduction of energy consumption by about 30-50%, depending on the type of product. With technology advancing at an ever-increasing rate, electronics are becoming outdated faster than ever before. Some companies have even been known to design their products such that they will only last a short amount of time, forcing consumers to throw away the device and purchase a newer model. This pattern of a high-throughput electronics lifecycle is problematic because in 2014, the United Nations University estimated that approximately 41.8 million metric tonnes of E-Waste was generated globally, while only about 15% of this waste was taken back and/or recycled. By 2018, E-waste generation is expected to reach 50 million metric tonnes.

Electronics brands can help address this issue by implementing product recycling and takeback programs to encourage consumers to dispose of our recycle their electronics responsibly. In doing so, Electronics brands can even remove valuable materials from old devices, and re-use them in new devices, thus closing the loop on their products and contributing to a circular economy. If E-Waste is not disposed of or recycled properly, it can be extremely problematic when disposed of in developing nations at open dumps that contaminate groundwater or is burnt in open pits, thereby resulting in the release of toxic chemicals into the air.

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Of the brands analyzed for this research, Fairphone scored the highest ranking, a “B” label, on a scale from A (best) to E (worst). Fairphone is the only brand out of those researched to report clear enough on its labor conditions policy and respective results realized at its supplying production facility. Similarly, Fairphone is the only brand that offers chargers for its product as an option only, uses at least 20% recycled plastic for its device, implements an active policy in place to increase the product life –span, and uses only replaceable batteries in its device. Apple is the best-performing brand for this sector in regards to climate change policy, scoring all but one of the maximum possible points on its reported initiatives for this topic. HP is also among the top-performing brands. For instance, it clearly reports on its measures to reduce its water use for its own operations as well as its suppliers.

When you are looking for more specific information on brands, a list of the brands can be found here. We hope to see some Electronics brands receiving higher labels in the future! To encourage your favorite Electronics brands to become more sustainable, you can send them a message through each individual brand’s page on the Rank a Brand website.

 

Support our work

To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. If you want to support the work of Rank a Brand we invite you to become Friend of Rank a Brand. We ask from our Friends a contribution of €25 per year, or a higher amount if you can afford, to enable our work. You will have a say in the sectors and brands that we will assess and can contribute to the further development of our criteria. See our website for more info and please share this post.

Do you want to be kept up date about our research of the sustainability performance of well-known brands? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, subscribe to our newsletter through our website.

Webshops…Bringing Brands Unsustainably Right to Your Door

Webshops have one distinct advantage over typical consumer retail businesses in that they aren’t located in actual buildings that consume electricity, water, and natural gas; generate waste; and take up space in areas that were previously natural habitats. However, despite these advantages in regards to sustainability, the Webshops sector has its own set of issues, especially in regards to greenhouse gas emissions from logistics, packaging from shipments, and an environmental footprint from consumers returning products to sellers.
In Germany, every third online order is returned, which results in over 250 million returned products annually. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, approximately 5.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world are the result of the transportation/logistics sector. In the United States, where the reliance on plastics and unnecessary packaging is common, packaging adds 29 million tons of non-biodegradable waste to landfills every year.

Overall, the Webshops sector performs quite poorly in regards to sustainability compared to other sectors such as Telecomunication (for instance Vodafone or Telekom), Website (for instance Google or Facebook) or Fashion Retailers (for instance Zara or Asos). Compared to the previous year’s rankings of Webshops, none of the brands received a higher grade label (i.e., an improvement from a C-label to a B-label). No brand scored above C-label, and of the 20 brands, 18 received an E-label, which is considered the lowest score. The Webshops sector is a sector with many relatively new brands, and therefore, one would expect more ambition and innovation on behalf of these brands in regards to their sustainability efforts. Half of the brands failed to implement a policy to reduce or minimize carbon emissions and none of the brands have taken steps to reduce the impact of their packaging by reusing or recycling or reducing the weight of packaging materials.

The German mail order brand Otto stands out as the only brand to receive a C-label, primarily due to its efforts in the areas of reducing and disclosing its climate footprint, providing environmentally and socially preferable options and information regarding the sustainability of these options to its consumers, reporting its paper materials footprint, and implementing labor conditions policies for its own employees as well temporary staff and suppliers. Similarly, the Dutch webshop bol.com receives a higher label compared to the other brands in that it received the next highest score, a D-label. Bol.com demonstrates exceptional efforts in that 95% of its shipping boxes are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. However, all of the Webshops brands have considerable room for improvement in their sustainability efforts.

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When you are looking for more specific information on brands, a list of the brands can be found here for Webshops. We hope to see some Webshops brands receiving higher labels in the future! To encourage your favorite Webshops brands to become more sustainable, you can send them a message through each individual brand’s page on the Rank a Brand website.

To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. If you want to support the work of Rank a Brand we invite you to become Friend of Rank a Brand. We ask from our Friends a contribution of €25 per year, or a higher amount if you can afford, to enable our work. You will have a say in the sectors and brands that we will assess and can contribute to the further development of our criteria. See our website for more info and please share this post.

Do you want to be kept up date about our research of the sustainability performance of well-known brands? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, subscribe to our newsletter through our website.

Rank a Brand: an explanation in 76 seconds

We hope this new video gives you a clear illustration of the work we do at Rank a Brand, and that you like it as much as we do! Also, a huge thanks to our friends from INAGAWA for making the video!

Fighting of the last cold winter days

Brrrr, it’s freezing outside! All time to cuddle up with a cup of warm tea or even hotter coffee. Add in some vitamins and fiber in the form of bananas or pineapples and you are ready to fight those last cold winter days. While these products might keep you warm and pick you up in cold days, they seem to be less affectionate to the world. In the updates for the tea and coffee sectors we see that brands are performing worse than last year (due to the more stringent criteria we have implemented). This leads to the situation that the choices to warm both your heart and body are becoming more limited than before. Moreover the tropical fruit sector is going bananas and does not show any good outcomes, except for one high scoring Costa Rican brand that is sold in Germany. So what are the best options to stay healthy and warm this winter? Let’s find out.

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Black coffee, green tea, or the other way around?

There are two brands that stand out by performing green in both the tea and coffee sector. The German brands GEPA and Lebensbaum both receive an A label, which clearly shows that they have their values in order in both their coffee and tea production processes. When only considering the coffee sector we found a third brand joining these top performers, namely the Dutch brand Hesselink coffee. This brand performs well for its use of 100% Rainforest Alliance certified coffee beans in its production process.

So what are these green brands doing to score an A label? A good example is GEPA, performing well in both sectors, and going the extra mile. They only use 100% fair trade and/or organic certified coffee and 100% environmentally certified tea, namely Naturland and/or EU organic. In addition, GEPA pays premiums up to 65% for their coffee beans and up to 109% per kg for their tea within its ”Fair+” program. This means that GEPA pays higher prices to their coffee and tea farmers than the most commonly used prices that are set in accordance with the Fairtrade standards. Concrete reporting of such premiums, like the premiums GEPA is paying, are rare to find among other brands in both sectors. By now, most brands, if at all, rather refer to collaboration with certification schemes like Fairtrade, UTZ Certified or Rainforest Alliance only.

Something that seems to be difficult to accomplish in both sectors is reporting on the company’s climate policies. This is especially true for the tea sector, where more or less only GEPA and Lebensbaum present clear reporting on these policies. We also see this in the coffee sector, where only Hesselink Coffee and again Lebensbaum come clean in their reports, followed by Nestlé (holder of Nescafé and Nespresso) and GEPA. Here Lebensbaum and Hesselink Koffie are setting a good example for the industry, reporting clearly on its types and sources of renewable energy for electricity and heat. Thereby, both companies also demonstrate that a significant share of its thermal energy (Lebensbaum) and electricity (Hesselink Koffie) is generated on-site. This makes companies less dependent on other companies’ renewable energy supply.

How do you like your coffee?

For coffee lovers there are some good alternatives out there, when GEPA, Lebensbaum, and Hesselink Koffie are not sold near you. Five brands receive a solid B label, namely the Dutch brands Café de Origen, Red Beans, Peeze, and Fair Trade original, and the German brand Café Intención. Furthermore, one German brand receives a C label: Tchibo. However, most widely available coffee brands perform worse, with among others Nespresso, Nescafé, Douwe Egberts, and Starbucks scoring a D label. Illy, Segafredo, and Dallmayr are three examples out of the eight lowest scoring brands, all receiving the E-label. This is mainly due to their totally absent or very meager reporting on policies regarding sustainability and sourcing. Unfortunately, as mentioned, it seems that consumers have to go out of their way to have more sustainable coffee options.

Let’s have a cuppa

For the English blended lovers the results are somewhere in the same direction. In the tea sector, Lebensbaum is the top performer with a solid A label. GEPA also does well and receives an A label as well. Of the remaining tea brands, one receives a B label, namely the Dutch brand Fair Trade Original. Three Dutch brands receive a C label, namely Markant, Piramide, and Zonnatura. What’s good to see here is that the brands ranked with a C label are more widely available (in the Netherlands at least) and can be purchased in many larger supermarkets. In the lowest scoring mark ups it is interesting, though sad, to see that Starbucks‘ tea brand Tazo is scoring lower than Starbucks does in the coffee sector. This is mainly due to the absence of reporting on how much of the tea leaves supply is certified fair trade, whereas Starbucks does mention a clear percentage for this for their coffee beans.

It’s bananas and pineapples!

As for the international market it is unfortunate to see that most tropical fruits brands are stuck in the lowest ranking category, the E label. Compared to last time, when five brands scored a D label, this sector is not headed into the right direction. This is mainly due to the lack of concrete and up to date sustainability reporting, e.g. mentioning certifications but not specifying what share that holds of the total products and not reporting numbers on the waste and packaging reductions mentioned. Chiquita, Del Monte, and Dole do show some effort, but as mentioned, lack any specific and recent data to have this sector come to a sweet ending.

However, something that is good to note here is that even though the majority of tropical fruit brands make it seem impossible to be sustainable in this sector, it can be done! A good example here is the Costa Rican brand Sixaolo that is sold in Germany, scoring a solid A label. Sixaolo is climate neutral and uses only certified (and beyond) tropical fruits in its production. Since the majority of brands is performing so low in this sector however, we advise not to buy their products until they show better performance and look for better alternatives around you in the meantime. When you know of such a better alternative that should not be forgotten in our ranking next time, let us know and give a donation to have that brand ranked. That way we can include these brands in our ranking.

Lighter times ahead for coffee and tea?

While there are some good options out there, the majority of coffee and tea brands performs poor and does not seem worthy of pouring in your cups. When looking at the tropical fruits sector, it is even worse, with too little well-performing international options out there.

When you are looking for more specific information on brands, a list of the brands can be found here for coffee, here for tea, and here for tropical fruits. We are excited to see some brands moving in the right direction and to (hopefully) be able to hand out more A and B labels in the future! You can support this by giving them a nudge in the right direction; look up your brand and send them a message through their page on our website. We will make sure it arrives with them.

To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. Do you want to be kept up date about our research of the sustainability performance of well-known brands? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, subscribe to our newsletter through our website.

Chocolate could be more pure

We start off 2016 with our newest ranking of the chocolate sector. The results range from an A label (best performance) to an E label (worst performance) and are mixed. Similar to most sectors, most brands do not score higher than a D label. On the other hand, four brands receive an A label. These brands consist of the Austrian brand Zotter, German brand GEPA and Dutch brands Tony’s Chocolonely and Fair Trade Original. Luckily, some of these brands are also available outside of their home countries.

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The top performers
Of the A label brands mentioned above, Zotter is the absolute number one. This brand receives 22 out of a possible 28 points. Because of organic and Fairtrade certifications, the brand performs very well on environmental policy and labour conditions. GEPA, Tony’s Chocolonely, and Fair Trade Original all receive 21 points and share the second place. Similar to Zotter they perform very well on environmental policy and labour conditions because their chocolate is Fairtrade certified. When it comes to climate policy, the brands should work on increasing their scores even further by publishing more information on their carbon emissions.

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Four brands receive the second highest label, the B label, and show they are well on their way towards sustainable chocolate. These brands consist of Green & Black’s, the German brands ForestFinest and Die Gute Schokolade, and the Dutch brand Bio Plus. All brands carry at least a Fairtrade certification, and Green & Black’s and Bio Plus are also fully organic.

The general trend
Besides these top brands, the majority of the brands show too little effort when it comes to their performance on climate and environmental policies and on labour conditions. Most of the well-known chocolate brands reside in this group. On the other hand, many of these brands do at least show some steps on the road towards sustainability. With the majority of brands in the chocolate sector receiving a D label, the second lowest grade, this sector performs better than most sectors, where most brands are stuck in the lowest grade, the E label.

Of these brands, four receive a reasonable score with a C label, namely the Dutch brands de Ruijter, Venz, Chocomel, and Jamin, of which the first two are now owned by Heinz. All four perform reasonably well in the areas of environmental policy and labour conditions. This is because all of them carry the UTZ certificate for most, if not all, of their products. The largest group of D label brands are all part ofthree major international companies: Nestlé (with brands like KitKat and Rolo), Mars (which, besides Mars, also consists of brands like Twix, M&M’s, and Snickers), and Ferrero (with brands like Ferrero Rocher and Nutella). All of these brands often carry some certificate (Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and/or UTZ Certified) for part of their products and therefore receive some points. Nevertheless, these brands still have a long way to go to become truly sustainable. This is even more true for brands receiving the lowest E label, among which are well-known brands such as Milka, Toblerone, and Leonidas.

Help purify chocolate
The complete list of this research can be found on the overview page of chocolate brands. Of course we like to see better results, so look up your favorite brand and nudge it in the right direction. This can be done by sending them a message through their page on our website.

To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. Do you want to be kept up date about our research of the sustainability performance of well-known brands? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, subscribe to our newsletter through our website.

Casual clothes are seldom sustainable

At the start of 2015, we’ve adapted more stringent criteria for the clothing sectors. Now, twelve months and over 400 clothing brands later, we publish the results of the final clothing sector we have ranked: casual clothing. Similar to what we have seen in the other sectors, many brands do not live up to the demands of our improved criteria. In general, the casual clothing sector shows lower scores and none of the brands receive an A label anymore. Nevertheless, multiple brands still show to be well on their way to being more sustainable.

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Eight frontrunners
Among the more than 80 brands in the casual clothing sector, there are eight frontrunners scoring a B label: the British brand People Tree and the German brands Kollateralschaden, Hessnatur, Waschbär, armedangels, Bleed, Greenality, and Recolution, many of which are available outside of Germany as well. These brands especially perform well in the areas of environmental policy and labour conditions. Kollateralschaden stands out because its entire production takes place in Berlin. Because of this, the brand receives a score of 100% for labour conditions, which is a rare achievement.

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One of the most important problems in the fashion industry is the bad labour conditions for factory workers. Only at Kollateralschaden payment of a living wage during apparel manufacturing can be considered realized, as this brands manufacturers in Germany only. Furthermore, four brands publish a list of suppliers, namely Kollateralschaden (its own atelier), best online casino People Tree, Recolution, and Monki (part of H&M). Publishing this data shows that these brands commit to transparency and oblige themselves to respond to misconduct in the factories of their suppliers. Through this data, interested third parties are able to research independently if these brands indeed follow labour regulations. Finally, all frontrunners stand out because of their use of environmentally friendly materials. Knowledge Cotton Apparel also uses at least 90% environmentally preferred materials. These are materials like organic cotton and linen, or recycled materials made from cotton, nylon or plastic bottles.

Taking a step back
Because of the more stringent criteria, almost every brand receives a lower score on our sustainability index. A majority (approximately 90%) of brands receives a C label or lower. Sixty-six percent even receives the lowest score, the E label. Because of this low performance, we advise not to purchase these brands until they show improvements. Many brands do not or barely report on reducing their carbon emissions, banning hazardous chemicals, using environmentally friendlier packaging materials, or reducing waste. Among the worst performing brands we find names like French Connection, CarharttStone Island, Lands’ End, and Fossil. We hope these brands take an example of the frontrunners, who prove that a different approach is possible.

Free fall Freitag
Freitag recently experienced a drastic fall in its sustainability performance. This Swiss brand strongly increased in popularity over the last years and moved part of its production from Switserland to riskier countries like Bulgaria and Tunisia. Unfortunately, Freitag does not yet communicate about labour conditions in the factories in these countries. Because of this, the brand now received a D label instead of an A label. The Dutch brands Cora Kemperman and Gaastra showed similar reductions in their results. Cora Kemperman’s score decreased from a B label to a D label and Gaastra’s score went from a C label to an E label.

Help make sustainability more fashionable
While there are a couple of positive exceptions, the whole casual clothing sector performs poorly. The complete list of this research can be found on the overview page of casual clothing. We of course like to see better results, so look up your brand and nudge it in the right direction. This can be done by sending them a message through their page on our website.

To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. Do you want to be kept up date about our research of the sustainability performance of well-known brands? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, subscribe to our newsletter through our website.