Beaker Rating Methodology

This Rating Methodology document outlines the principles and procedures of our Responsibility Rating System for Brands, developed with the primary objective of providing consumers with insightful and transparent information regarding a brand's environmental and ethical practices. Our system aims to empower consumers by offering a consistent holistic assessment of companies' sustainability efforts, while also addressing the challenges posed by limited publicly available data through the inclusion of confidence scores.

System Overview

Our Rating System evaluates brands based on two fundamental axes: Environment and Ethics. These axes serve as the primary dimensions for assessing a brand's sustainability performance. The ratings on these axes are then averaged to calculate the brand's overall responsibility score.

1. Environmental Axis

  • This axis evaluates a brand's environmental practices and its commitment to minimizing its ecological footprint.
  • Factors considered may include carbon emissions, resource use, waste management, and sustainable sourcing.

2. Ethics Axis

  • The ethics axis assesses a brand's ethical practices, focusing on factors related to social responsibility, fair labor practices, and community engagement.
  • Considerations may include worker conditions, human rights, supply chain transparency, and charitable initiatives.

Confidence Scores

One of the key differentiators of our Responsibility Rating System is the inclusion of confidence scores for each axis. These confidence scores help consumers understand the reliability of the ratings, particularly in cases where limited public data is available for certain brands. The confidence score for each axis is determined based on the amount of data we have collected for that specific aspect of sustainability. These scores are then averaged to calculate an overall confidence score for the brand.

Confidence Scoring Process

  • High Confidence (7-10): Indicates that a significant amount of reliable data is available for the assessment, making the rating highly reliable.
  • Moderate Confidence (4-7): Suggests that a reasonable amount of data is available, but there may be some gaps or uncertainties.
  • Low Confidence (0-4): Indicates limited data availability, potentially resulting in less reliable ratings.

This approach allows us to maintain transparency and ensure that consumers can distinguish between ratings based on robust data and those influenced by data limitations.

We realized that often times existing rating systems would provide poor ratings, but it was just because data wasn’t available. To address this, we surface this information to users to let them know how reliable our ratings are.

Rating Elements

To enhance the accuracy and consistency of our ratings, we employ a structured approach known as Rating Elements. These are specific facts about a company that directly influence its sustainability rating. Each Rating Element consistently contributes to either an increase or decrease in the brand's score, regardless of the brand's size or industry.

Example Rating Elements:

  • "Uses organic materials (when applicable): Often" (positive factor)
  • "Uses organic materials (when applicable): Never" (negative factor)

These Rating Elements help to standardize the rating process and ensure that similar companies with similar practices receive comparable ratings.

In our Rating directory, you may click on a Rating Element to see what the Elemetn means, why we believe it matters, and the source(s) we used to determine that the Rating Element held true for that brand.

Disclaimer: the weights we assign to each rating element are always subject to change based on how it affects the broader Rating distribution. If you have noticed a weight change for a given rating, it has changed for all companies, not just that one. If you notice different weights for the same Rating Element, please contact or fill out our Feedback form.

Data Collection

Our system intelligently collects data from a variety of sources, including company reports, product directories, and publicly available information. We employ data mining and natural language processing techniques to extract relevant information and evaluate companies based on the predetermined Rating Elements.

Initial Rating and Continuous Updates

Our Sustainability Rating System for Brands employs a dynamic and flexible approach to rating companies, ensuring transparency, fairness, and the potential for improvement. Here's how the rating process works:

Initial Rating

  • Starting Point: Every company begins with an initial score of 5/10 on our sustainability rating scale. This middle-ground score represents a neutral starting point.
  • Initial Confidence Score: The confidence score for each axis starts at 0, indicating a lack of data and thus, a low level of confidence in the initial rating.
  • Reasoning: We begin every company at the midpoint (5/10) because, without specific Rating Elements (data), we cannot make assumptions about a brand's sustainability performance. This approach ensures that companies are not prematurely labeled as either 'good' or 'bad' in the absence of relevant data.

Continuous Updates

Our rating system is designed to evolve as we gather more data and insights about a brand's sustainability practices. This continuous update process ensures that ratings are consistent, transparent, and reversible, reflecting the changing landscape of sustainability efforts. Our system’s design allows us to quickly update any rating, as soon as new data is available whether it’s a new sustainability initiative or on the other hand a class action lawsuit.

Data Collection and Confidence Score Adjustment

  • Data Accumulation: As we collect more data and Rating Elements for a company, the confidence scores for the Environment and Ethics axes are adjusted upward. Higher confidence scores indicate a more reliable assessment.
  • Rating Element Weight: The rating is updated based on the weight of the corresponding Rating Elements. Positive Rating Elements increase the rating, while negative ones decrease it.

Reversible Rating

Our system acknowledges that companies can improve or regress in their sustainability practices over time. Therefore, ratings are not static but responsive to changes in a brand's behavior. If a company takes steps to improve its sustainability practices, its rating can increase, and conversely, if its performance deteriorates, the rating may decrease.

Additionally, the transparency of our rating system through the Rating Elements means brands can’t pay us to increase their ratings. You can see exactly why each brand has the rating it has by doing the math- no more vague explanations of company ratings.

Our commitment to transparency means that consumers can easily track how a brand's rating evolves over time. This encourages brands to make consistent efforts to enhance their sustainability practices and enables consumers to make informed choices based on up-to-date information.