M&S marks five years of Plan A

M&S is to step up its efforts to persuade customers to adopt more sustainable consumption, as it marks five years of its Plan A ethical business strategy.

Oxfam

The retailer claims that it has become the first carbon neutral retailer, sends zero waste to landfill and uses 26% less packaging.

In a progress report for Plan A, M&S says it has met 138 of the 180 environmental and ethical commitments it set itself in the past five years, and is on track to meet 30 more.

Six original commitments are behind schedule, such as its plan to build a ‘M plan A’ site to help customers live a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce business flights.

A further six have not been achieved. These include reaching 84% of the 100% target for sourcing FSC certified wood, hampered by the availability of sustainable timber, missing water use reduction targets by 2% and a fall in the volume of organic food sold due to falling consumer demand.

More than five million customers have taken part in Plan A activities, such as its recently launched clothing recycling initiative, Shwopping, and its Beach Clean up, it claims.

M&S has also helped customers used 1.7 million fewer plastic carrier bags in five years by introducing a charge, which is then reinvested into environmental organisations.

The retailer says it has invested in more than half a million hours of training and education in its supply chain to ensure more ethical operations.

Almost a third (31%) of M&S products now have a Plan A attribute, which M&S says is driving “more sustainable consumption” amongst its shoppers. M&S hopes to increase this to 50% by 2015 and 100% by 2020.

Marc Bolland, chief executive of M&S, says: “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.”

Later this month M&S will invite 400 NGO’s and sustainability experts to its annual Plan A conference to talk about the next five years of Plan A and how to make further progress.

Last month, M&S reported its first profit slide in three years, but expects performance to lift next year as the impact of store investments takes effect.

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