Marks & Spencer has published a progress update on its 'Plan A' scheme, a commitment to a program of 180 sustainability efforts. 139 of the 180 commitments have been achieved, while the original Plan A commitments (becoming carbon neutral and sending no waste to landfill) have been maintained and improved. According to the retailer, 'Last year Plan A delivered £135 million in net benefits to re-invest in the M&S business. 1,100 people from disadvantaged parts of the community were helped through business work experience placements in M&S stores. Over half went on to find full time employment'.
11% of the cotton used to make M&S products is now either Fairtrade, Organic, recycled or grown to Better Cotton Initiative standards, compared to a 3.8% total last year, while refrigeration CO2e emissions were down by 60 per cent in 2012/13 when compared to the retailer's 2007 baseline.
Water use at M&S is down by 27%, a saving achieved by the installation of in-store water saving technologies. Fairtrade food and drink sales have more than doubled since the launch of Plan A in 2007.
Marc Bolland, chief executive at M&S said, “We can be very proud of what M&S has achieved through Plan A over the past six years. It has made our business more sustainable and more engaging for our customers and employees."
He continued, however, “We have moved closer to our vision of M&S as a sustainable international multi-channel retailer, but we know that we still have a long way to go to make this a reality. Through Plan A we will continue to push the business case for social and environmental responsibility, develop new alliances and learn from others.” (7 June)