Which is the most ethical supermarket?

As millennials, we have more shopping choices than any other generation before.

But it is not always what is the cheapest option that we base our choice on entirely despite also being the most cash-strapped generation.

Neilson, a consumer research company, found that millennials are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact were also strong—up from 55 per cent in 2014 to 72 per cent in 2015.

So Assertion has compiled the most ethical supermarkets here for you from the information publicly available on each of their websites.

Co-op and Marks and Sparks are our champions, not all of their fantastic achievements have even been listed here because there are so many. Both businesses seem to be leading in their promotion of animal welfare. Even with M&S producing their own household and beauty products that are not tested on animals. While they also have schemes all over the world to support their suppliers and ensure the consumer is getting the most ethical produce.

While Asda is right down at the bottom with their history of sweatshops in Bangladesh that paid employees the equivalent to 7p an hour in 2009. The information provided on their website focuses on how they now work to appreciate their staff and the staff of their suppliers with little mention of reducing waste, animal welfare or fairtrade-like projects that other supermarkets are championing.


Co-op was the first supermarket to launch a fairtrade certified own-brand product range while also aiming to “mainstream” fairtrade by being the first in the UK to provide fairtrade products in every single store.

They were the first UK store to stock only free-range eggs, including eggs used in their own-brand products. All farmers that provide products to Co-op must fit these categories in how their livestock are reared:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. Freedom from fear and distress

However, it is not just fairtrade and animal welfare where Co-op is impressive.

Almost 100 per cent of their electricity coming from their own renewable resources.

They have announced that they aim for all packaging to be recycled where it can be, and have set a target that by 2020, 80 per cent of their products will have packaging that is easy to recycle.

Marks and Spencer

Good old Marks and Sparks have their own ethical plan called Plan A 2020 which includes 100 new, revised and existing commitments, with the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.

This includes all of their owned stores being set up to redistribute unsold food to their local community since April 2016.

While championing their part in fairtrade which includes all tea and coffee, wine, flowers and chocolate sold in their stores.

They do not test any of their own brand beauty or household products on animals while also guaranteeing none of the individual ingredients in these products have been tested on animals also.

They have a project called “Global work in the community” which includes but is not limited to projects that promote sustainable cotton growing in India, sustainable fishing in the UK and financial literacy and inclusion for garment workers in India.

They aim to design their buildings in ways that minimise carbon emissions and energy demand.


Waitrose is also a proud partner with the fairtrade foundation while working to source responsibly, for example, they now assure a minimum standard for farmers that conventional dairy cows (producing non-organic milk) must spend at least 100 days outside grazing in fields.

They work closely with our farmers to ensure that all the livestock that provides us with meat, eggs, milk and other products are reared to the highest welfare standards.

They reported to have reduced carbon emissions per £m sales by 50.7 per cent and to have diverted 98 per cent of their operational waste away from landfills. 66.4 per cent was recycled – with the majority of the remainder going to energy recovery facilities, including anaerobic digestion.

These figures were found through KPMG LLP, an auditor, to undertaking an independent limited assurance engagement, reporting to the Partnership, over selected information.

They claim to be working hard with their suppliers to reduce product packaging.


Sainsbury’s have a number of commitments including to reduce and optimise packaging of their own brand products, to encourage children to be active in a balanced lifestyle, to stock sustainable fish and to have all animals products sourced from suppliers who adhere to independently verified higher animal health and welfare outcomes.

In 2015 they announced that 97 per cent of the palm oil used to make Sainsbury’s own-brand products is now certified sustainable.

And that they were the world’s largest retailer of fairtrade by value with sales of over £290m.

While also facilitating the donation of 980 tonnes of surplus food to FareShare from our suppliers.


Aldi claim “None of the waste we produce has been sent direct to landfill since 2014.”

In 2016, they became one of the first signatories to Courtauld 2025, a 10-year commitment in the food industry that hopes to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable.

They are committed to supporting British farmers, growers and suppliers and have the largest fresh, British selection available across all their stores.

Aldi also stocks a large variety of fairtrade products.

Aldi has partnered with the Teenage Cancer Trust with the aim of donating£5 million in five years to “ensure no young person faces cancer alone.”


100 per cent of Morrisons branded fresh beef, pork, lamb and chicken is produced to Red Tractor standards – they are an organisation that claims to ensure the food is traceable, safe to eat and has been produced responsibly. However, this is standard across the UK.

None of Morrison’s own personal care and cosmetic products have been tested on animals or contain ingredients that have been tested upon animals.

They claim to have had a 23.6 per cent absolute reduction in carbon emissions since 2005. They now aim to reduce this by 30 per cent by 2020.

They have rolled out a nationwide “Unsold Food to Charity Programme”. This ensures edible surplus food gets put to good use.


Tesco have pledged that by 2017 none of their surplus food will be wasted in the UK.

They have created Sustainable Farming Groups across the UK, including beef, lamb, dairy and chicken, to ensure that we build strong, long-term relationships with our farmers.

They have worked to help customers make healthier choices. They removed sweets, chocolates and fizzy sugary drinks from our tills and in-queue areas in January 2015.



Lidl have committed themselves to sourcing 100 per cent of their eggs and eggs in their products from caged-free hens by 2025.

They are working to increase certification on products to show their responsible sourcing so that customers can make informed choices on the products they are buying.

They stock a range of products that have been independently audited to ensure they meet the animal welfare standards of the RSPCA Assured scheme.


Asda’s lists of suppliers standards include that employment is freely chosen, working conditions are safe and hygienic and that workers receive compensation for their work.

Asda has a commitment to local sourcing of products and supporting local suppliers.

Asda said that since 2005 they have reduced energy use in its existing stores by 33 per cent.

They also work with a range of charities to share surplus food to those in need.

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