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Plan A Report Confirms M&S as First Carbon Neutral Major Retailer

Marks & Spencer (M&S)Marks & Spencer (M&S) published its “2012 How We Do Business Report” on June 7, which reports on the first five years of progress of its 180 commitment eco and ethical programme, Plan A.

The report confirms –

  • M&S is the first major retailer to become carbon neutral [1];
  • 138 commitments have been achieved and a further 30 are ‘on plan’;
  • M&S now recycles 100 per cent of its waste, nothing goes to landfill [2];
  • 31 per cent of M&S products now have a Plan A attribute such as free range, made at an eco factory or made from recycled material;
  • Over five million customers have taken part in Plan A activities.

It also shows how M&S now uses fewer carrier bags (1.7 billion bags saved in five years) and less packaging (26% less by weight), and has made its sourcing operations and products more sustainable. Over ½ million hours of training and education, including health care and employment rights, have been completed in the supply chain; all of the wild fish sold at M&S is from the most sustainable sources available; and 257 M&S products are now made using certified sustainable palm oil.

31 per cent of products now have a Plan A attribute, driving more sustainable consumption amongst M&S customers. This adds up to almost a billion individual items sold every year at a retail value of £3 billion. The target is to raise this to 50 per cent by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2020.

Over five million customers have taken part in Plan A activities, including customers who have ‘shwopped’ – donated an unwanted item of clothing when buying a new one, to be re-used, re-sold or recycled by Oxfam – and customers that took part in last month’s Big Beach clean-up.

Marc Bolland, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer said, “I am proud of what we’ve achieved. We now have a better, greener and more ethical Marks & Spencer. Moving forward, we will continue to engage customers in sustainable consumption, as we have with our Shwopping initiative, the first cradle-to-cradle clothes retailing business model. We remain as committed to Plan A as we have ever been. It is an essential part of our DNA and fundamental to our plans to become an international, multi-channel retailer.”

Against the 180 commitments (100 launched in 2007, 80 added in 2010), 138 have been achieved, 30 are ‘on plan’, six are ‘behind plan’ and six have not been achieved [3].

Additional Report Highlights

  • 5,000 people who face barriers to the workplace (for example, people with a disability) have now completed Marks & Start work placements, with 40 per cent going on to full-time employment;
  • M&S’ partnership with Oxfam has collected more than 11 million garments since 2008 to be re-sold, re-used or recycled;
  • Sales of Fairtrade food at M&S have increased by 88 per cent since 2007;
  • M&S now boasts the top two healthy eating brands in the UK – Simply Fuller Longer and Count On Us;
  • M&S has raised over £17 million for Breakthrough Breast Cancer since 2001, £1.9 million last year;
  • M&S collected 147 million clothes hangers for re-use and recycle last year;
  • M&S has become 28% more energy efficient per square foot and 100 per cent of the energy M&S buys directly is now from a ‘green’ tariff, including 15 per cent from small scale generators;
  • Plan A has received more than 100 sustainability awards, including ‘Responsible Retailer of the Year’ at last year’s Oracle World Retail Awards and the Queen’s Award for ‘Enterprise for Sustainable Development’.

Check the following link to read/download the Full Report – “2012 How We Do Business Report”:


[1] Becoming the World’s First Carbon Neutral Major Retailer

All M&S operated stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets in the UK and Republic of Ireland have been certified as being carbon neutral. This means that M&S has significantly reduced its carbon emissions and purchased high quality carbon offsets to balance out the remaining emissions.

M&S greenhouse gas emissions are down by 22 per cent or 158,000 tonnes CO2e since 2007, despite the company growing sales space by 18 per cent over the same period. This has been achieved by cutting electricity use, reducing gas leaks from refrigeration units and improved fuel efficiency.

To buy offsets, M&S has worked with the Carbon Neutral Company to purchase ‘Gold Standard’ or Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) offsets that help tackle climate change and offer broader social and environmental benefits. For example, M&S has purchased offsets from a project that distributes efficient cook stoves in South Africa. These not only help combat climate change; they also save lives by reducing smoke pollution and conserve forests by cutting firewood demand. Other M&S offsets come from forestry projects in Malaysia and Kenya, wind power projects in Turkey and India, and biomass energy projects in China and Sri Lanka.

[2] Zero Waste to Landfill

Since the launch of Plan A, M&S has reduced waste by 31 per cent or 80,000 tonnes and 100 per cent of waste is now recycled. Nothing ends up in landfill.

This has been achieved by installing recycling centers in all M&S stores, warehouses and offices and creating a behavioural change amongst employees through a company-wide training programme to educate employees on waste segregation.