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Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

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How ethical and sustainable is Virgin? (Previously known as Virgin Media O2)

Virgin is a low-ranking brand in The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Ratings & Comparison Tables.

Virgin is a mobile phone network owned by Liberty Global Plc / Telefonica S.A.  and receives a poor Good Shopping Guide score in our Ethical Mobile Phones Networks Ratings Table. Although Virgin has not yet met our Ethical Benchmark, we hope to see the brand make progress in the future.

In which areas does Virgin perform well? 

Virgin performs well in its good Environmental Report. The Virgin Sustainability Report states the company’s target of reducing CO2 emissions by 25% by 2025.

Virgin’s parent company, Telefonica, released a section in its Integrated Annual Report, ‘Building a Greener Future’ which has several targets. For example, Telefonica aims to achieve Net Zero by 2025 and 100% renewable energy by 2030. In this report, Telefonica also evidences some progress on former targets.

Additionally, neither Liberty nor Telefonica have involvement in the nuclear industries.

In which areas does Virgin perform poorly? 

Despite Virgin’s progress, there is still room for improvement. The brand was marked down under our criteria for Animal Welfare, Human Rights, Armaments and Political DonationsPETA has criticised Telefonica for broadcasting Spanish bullfighting on its channels. (Please be aware that this link contains a video which may be upsetting.) PETA considers bullfighting a cruel and inhumane sport.

Shockingly, Telefónica Brasil and three companies in its supply chain have been found guilty of using slave labour to construct a cell phone tower. Eleven labourers were hired from Maranhao, one of the most impoverished states in Brazil, and required to work long hours for a month without breaks, restrooms, or sleeping accommodations, all while receiving no pay. The business and its subcontractors were fined 200,000 Brazilian Real (about £37.5k).

Telefonica has also been found to be involved in supplying military technology and intelligence services. Virgin’s other parent company, Liberty Global, has also financially contributed to US parties/candidates.

How can Virgin brand improve its Ethical Rating?

The Good Shopping Guide score results from multiple ethical criteria in relation to Virgin. To reach our minimum Ethical Benchmark and qualify for Ethical Accreditation, Virgin and its parent companies have some issues to resolve. This includes being more rigorous in the ethics of its supply chains, its commitment to human rights and welfare, and its involvement in politics and the military.

If your mobile phone network brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Nuclear Power


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare



  • Armaments


  • Political Donations


  • Human Rights



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating