Marks & Spencer announces achievements through Plan A

M&S: extended energy offering in February
M&S: extended energy offering in February

Marks & Spencer has reported a 20% reduction in food packaging as part of its pledge to become the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015.

The company launched its Plan A, its ethical and eco drive, in 2007 and, this year, it announced a programme to be the most sustainable global retailer by 2015.

Today (Thursday), M&S announced that the majority of its commitments are on track to be achieved by the deadline. It has said that 62 of its original commitments have been achieved, 30 are on plan to be achieved, and seven were behind plan.

It said that one of the seven commitments, the use of bio-diesel, was on hold until a sustainable supplier was found.

However, the company said that of non-glass food packaging, it had achieved a 20% reduction, with a 19% improvement in energy efficiency of its stores.

It also declared that 417 million fewer carrier bags, which are charged at 5p, were used in the past year.

It added that £50m of profit had been invested back into the business from Plan A activities.  

In March, M&S extended Plan A to incorporate 80 new commitments and extensions to its original commitments.

Sir Stuart Rose, chairman of Marks & Spencer, said: "Plan A is making a real difference to the environment and for our customers, employees and people working in our supply chains."

He added: "We've made excellent progress, but there's no time to stand still. It is clear that evidence of environmental damage and social inequality has increased since we launched Plan A."

In February, M&S extended its energy offering by launching a new Home Energy Service division, providing customers with energy efficiency products and services.  

New products included bespoke energy advice, renewable energy solutions such as solar panels and heat pumps, and energy efficient heating products over the coming months. As a result, M&S Energy has now more than 300,000 customers signed up.

Other headline achievements include:

  • 33 per cent less waste sent to landfill year on year
  • 40 per cent of electricity sourced from ‘green' tariff renewable supplies
  • 18 per cent reduction in refrigeration emissions (compared to 06/07)
  • 1.8 million garments recycled through the Oxfam Clothing Exchange
  • Packaging reduced by 36 per cent on general merchandise products1
  • 84 per cent of PET food plastic packaging made using recycled materials
  • 72 per cent of wood used is Forest Stewardship Council, recycled or from sources which otherwise protect forests and communities
  • Healthier food now makes up 38 per cent of food products ranges
  • 91 per cent of food products now meet FSA salt reduction targets
  • More than £13.2m invested last year in community projects

On Monday (7 June), the retailer picked up the leading-edge thinking and sustainable consumption honours at the annual Marketing Society awards, for its CSR efforts through Plan A.

In the three months to 27 March, the retailer witnessed like-for-like sales growth of 5.1% year on year, with sales of  general merchandise up 9.1% and a food increase of 1.8%.

Despite sales of food being up just 0.8% in the three months to Christmas, this represented M&S' sixth consecutive quarter of improved performance in food.



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