Though the consciousness to purchase eco-friendly products and services is growing among consumers, it is easy to get duped by fly-by-night operators. Many companies today profess to be sustainable and loudly declare their water positivity and energy efficiency status, but be it producers of packaged food, clothes, furniture or services like hotels and restaurants, there is no way to know how much of their claim is true.

To address this issue, COP 28 in December last year saw the launch of EcoRatings, an AI powered platform that rates products and services on their ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) performance vis-à-vis the 17 Sustainable Development Goals framework constituted by the UN. And though the platform is only a few months old, the three young co-founders of EcoRatings find that they are striking a chord with both companies and consumers. A few weeks ago, they won the Digital Responsibility Award for Business Empowerment at the 18th edition of the India Digital Summit hosted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

But why would anyone take their effort seriously, especially when a rating can make or break a product’s reputation? Co-founder Aqeel Ahmed says they too asked the same question when they started. And to build their credibility, they started with the academic world. In February 2023, EcoRatings was incubated at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. In July the same year it was accepted by the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, IIT Bombay, which included a small equity and a grant.

Today, they have an office space at IIT Delhi for their R&D and are waiting to receive their ISO 17065 accreditation which will make them a full-fledged body to certify products. EcoRatings is also partnering with Accenture for a “go to market” on their sustainability programme. “This is a huge endorsement,” says Ahmed and undoubtedly a big opportunity.

While the company’s AI platform in lay terms is a kind of specialised ChatGPT for sustainability, this is backed with verifiable data sources and documents, searching the web, satellite imagery, and third-party verified data such as licenses. Ahmed says companies are responding well to the idea of rating: “They have realised that the market is becoming more environment conscious and they need to promote sustainability for a better response from the market, a better price and better revenue for their products and services.”