Marks & Spencer updates 'Plan A' sustainability program, says company now carbon neutral, recycles 100% of waste; 31% of products have a Plan A attribute such as being free range, adding up to almost £3B worth of such items sold annually

LONDON , June 8, 2012 (press release) – Marks & Spencer (M&S) today publishes its 2012 How We Do Business Report, which reports on the first five years of progress of its 180 commitment eco and ethical programme, Plan A. The report confirms that M&S is the first major retailer to become carbon neutral and that 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 and 31 per cent of M&S products now have a Plan A attributes such as free range, made at an eco factory, or made from recycled material. More than 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 are from the most sustainable sources available and 257 M&S products are now made using certified sustainable palm oil.

Thirty-one 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 achieved3.

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. 

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