BfG News Issue 9 - Expert View: Marks & Spencers' sustainable strategy

09 Feb 2008|Added Value

Each month News invites an expert to give us their view on a topical issue.  This month we approached one of our expert speakers at the ‘Green 2.0:  Avoid the Greenwash’ summit in March this year – Lucy Calver, Head of Marketing, Food & CSR, Marks and Spencer.   At the ‘Branding for Good’ summit, Lucy will share some of the highs, lows and learnings from M&S’s journey so far in building a sustainable global business.

We launched Plan A in January 2007, setting out 100 commitments over 5 years to address the key social and environmental challenges facing Marks & Spencer today and in the future.  Twelve months into Plan A we have made good progress in implementing many of the actions we set out, but we still have more to do. Our progress reflects the growing involvement of M&S customers, suppliers and employees in Plan A across the following five pillars.

Climate change
In the last 12 months, we’ve reduced energy related CO2 emissions from our stores and offices by 55,000 tonnes; supported farmers who are investing in small-scale renewable energy production; opened 3 pilot ‘eco-stores’; ordered 140 new aerodynamic trailers; completed a carbon footprint for our food business; and helped shift the percentage of clothing washes done at 30C from 23% to 31%.

We’ve started to engage our customers in reducing carrier bag usage and recycling clothing. We’ve also reduced our use of packaging, increased the amount of recycled material we use and improved our recycling rates for construction waste and coat hangers. It’s a good start, but we know we must do even more to achieve our target of sending zero waste to landfill from our own operations.

Sustainable Raw Materials
On animal welfare we’ve led the market in implementing lower stocking densities for chicken and again received the RSPCA Award for animal welfare. On clothing we’ve introduced more Fairtrade and organic cotton, organic linen and recycled polyester. We’ve also increased sales of organic food by 48%.

Fair Partner
We’ve extended our use of Fairtrade certified products, in particular cotton and developed a Lamb Pledge to support our UK lamb farmers. We’ve created a successful Supplier Exchange to involve our suppliers in Plan A and continued to play a major role in the community raising £1.6m for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and £646,000 for Save the Children. In total our Fairtrade food sales are up 20% this year and we’ve sold 3.2m Fairtrade cotton garments. We’ve also updated our commitments on labour standards to ensure we work even more closely to support our suppliers. For example, by increasing the size of our overseas team of labour standards experts from 7 to 23 and helping our suppliers develop six ethical model factories to identify and share best practice.

We’ve removed artificial colourings and flavourings from 99% of the food we sell, continued to lead the sector in reducing salt levels in food, introduced front of pack FSA traffic lights and trained 1500 of our employees as healthy eating assistants.”

To find out more about Marks & Spencers ‘Plan A’ – visit

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