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Marks & Spencer launches £200 Million “eco-plan”; B50 Biodiesel a Component

Marks & Spencer, the UK-based global retailer, has announced “Plan A”—a business-wide £200 million (US$394 million) “eco-plan” which will have an impact on every part of M&S’ operations over the next five years.

The detailed 100-point plan means that by 2012 M&S will become carbon neutral; send no waste to landfill; extend sustainable sourcing; set new standards in ethical trading; and help customers and employees live a healthier lifestyle. One of the points of Plan A is a move to B50 biodiesel.

Every business and individual needs to do their bit to tackle the enormous challenges of climate change and waste. While M&S will continue to sell great quality, stylish and innovative products, our customers, employees and shareholders now expect us to take bold steps and do business differently and responsibly. We believe a responsible business can be a profitable business. We are calling this Plan A because there is no plan B.

This is a deliberately ambitious and, in some areas, difficult plan. We don’t have all the answers but we are determined to work with our suppliers, partners and Government to make this happen. Doing anything less is not an option.

—Stuart Rose, M&S Chief Executive

The 100-point Plan A includes commitments in five areas:

CLIMATE CHANGE. M&S will minimize energy use, maximize the use of renewables and use offsetting as a last resort. M&S means to meet the challenge set by the Stern Review of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% nearly 40 years ahead of target. As a significant amount of emissions come from our suppliers and customers making and using M&S products, the company plans to enroll them as well. Points include:

  • Becoming 25% more energy efficient and powering stores with renewable energy. This will include trialling the use of anaerobic digestion to create renewable energy generated by waste from our food halls, farms and factories.

  • Committing to buy as much food from the UK and Ireland as possible, double regional food sourcing within 12 months and grow our existing local supply networks. In addition, we will minimize the amount of food we air freight as well as labelling the food imported by air as ”flown’.

  • Initiating 5 new research and development projects with UK growers to develop production techniques and varieties to reduce the amount of food imported.

  • Only using carbon offsetting as a last resort, where there is no short- to medium-term prospect of green technology being developed. Where offsetting is used, M&S will allocate the cost of doing so to individual business units, as a commercial incentive to minimize CO2 emissions.

  • Opening a model green factory with a supplier, as well as model green stores in Pollok, Bournemouth and Liverpool and a Simply Food green store at Galashiels.

  • Using 50% bio-diesel (B50) in all trucks.

  • Working with suppliers through the M&S Supplier Exchange to share best practice and to mobilize suppliers to reduce their carbon emissions.

  • Helping customers reduce energy use in their homes by developing low carbon products and services and running a Carbon Challenge with the Women’s Institute as well as a campaign run by the Climate Group.

WASTE. M&S will stop sending waste to landfill from stores, offices and warehouses, reduce the use of packaging and carrier bags, and find new ways to recycle and reuse materials. Points include:

  • Reducing the use of packaging by 25%,

  • Stop sending food waste to landfill and use it to generate green energy from stores, via anaerobic digestion.

  • Recycling all waste from store remodel and construction programs.

  • Using packaging materials from sustainable or recycled sources, for example cardboard, metal, glass and plastic.

  • Restricting the range of materials used in packaging to ones which are easy to recycle or compost, so customers do not have to throw rubbish away. This will include focusing on using four types of plastic (corn starch derived plastic PLA, PP, PET and PE).

  • Printing simple symbols on all our packaging, to make it easy for customers to recycle or compost waste.

  • Reducing use of carrier bags by 33% and making all plastic bags from recycled plastic.

  • Trialling closed loop recycling in six of the Café Revives, where used packaging can be recycled into M&S product packaging. M&S aims to roll this out across the 450+ Café Revives and staff restaurants.

  • Ensuring that, within 5 years, no M&S clothing needs to end up in landfill by finding alternatives to disposal such as reusing, composting and recycling.

RAW MATERIALS. M&S will ensure that key raw materials come from the most sustainable source possible. The commitment includes:

  • Using only wood which is recycled or certified as coming from a sustainable source by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or equivalent standard where FSC wood is not available. This will include wood used in: furniture, books, cards, packaging, catalogues, kitchen/toilet roll, printer/photocopier paper and marketing materials. This adds to the 80 million sandwich packs sold each year made from cardboard from FSC certified sources and the A grade rating received from Greenpeace for M&S garden furniture in 2006.

  • Converting all fresh turkey, geese, duck and pork to Free Range, building on M&S’ industry-leading position of only using Free Range shell eggs and eggs used as an ingredient.

  • Selling only fish which is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or another independently certified source, adding to the steps already taken and building on its position as Greenpeace’s no.1 responsible fish retailer.

  • Using recycled plastic (e.g. bottles) not oil, to make polyester for clothing and home products.

  • Tripling sales of organic food and launching organic cotton, linen and wool.

  • Ensuring produce and livestock farmers meet an independent environmental standard such as LEAF or FWAG.

  • Reducing the water use in stores, offices and distribution centres by 20% and working with suppliers via the Supplier Exchange to reduce water use during the growing, production and manufacture of products.

FAIR PARTNER.   M&S is committing to improving the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people in its supply chain and local communities. The commitment includes:

  • Being a leader in managing labor standards in the supply chain, building on its existing global standards and robust monitoring program.

  • Converting key clothing ranges to 100% Fairtrade cotton, including all our £5 women’s and men’s t-shirts and around 12 million garments in total. Over the next twelve months this will rise to 20 million garments, as the company adds in new ranges of men’s shirts, and lingerie vests. This equates to around one third of the world’s supply of Fairtrade cotton in 2006.

  • Building on the success of Fairtrade coffee and tea by offering Fairtrade bananas, jam and bagged sugar and moving into other vulnerable supply chains like those for sugar cane and cocoa used across the food range.

  • Working with farmers to extend its existing industry leading Milk Pledge pricing scheme into new farming sectors.

  • Launching the M&S Supplier Exchange to support suppliers by sharing best practice, stimulating innovation and helping them secure funds for investment.

  • Helping disadvantaged groups like the disabled and homeless get into jobs through work placements in the UK (600 adults per year) and overseas (150 adults per year) through the Marks & Start program.

HEALTHY EATING. M&S will help thousands of customers and employees choose a healthier lifestyle. Commitments include:

  • Introducing 1,500 Healthy Eating Assistants in stores and extending the same training, developed in collaboration with the British Nutrition Foundation, to all staff in food halls within 3 years.

  • Aiming to increase the amount of Eat Well nutritionally balanced food sold from 30% to 50% of food sales.

  • Continuing to lead the sector in reducing the use of salt to meet and exceed 2010 FSA targets having already achieved these targets for ready meals, bread and breakfast cereals.

  • Replacing artificial colors with natural colors in kids’ sweets and cakes in 12 months.

  • Helping employees to live healthy lifestyles by launching a M&S Health and Lifestyle Information Intranet, providing them with advice and maintaining free breast screening for female employees over 40.



This is a very comprehensive step in the right direction. I wonder if Big Boxes (megastores) elsewhere (worldwide) would follow the lead. I know Wal-Mart is doing something in this area, but nowhere as comprehensive.


well I must say this sounds amazing , a large retailer with a conscience ! I really hope it goes well for them . Its good to know that someone took notice of the sten report.


Wow - imagine if USA giant Wal-mart would subscribe to something similar!


You can be sure if it gets the attuide it gets in this room more compays will be looking


First up I have to stop a few misunderstandings from Americans on this one.

I'm Scottish and shop at Marks & Spencers occasionally.

They are, without a doubt, the most upmarket, expensive shop in the UK retail business. They can easily afford to "go green".

Also they know that their specific customer demographic is upper middle class wealthy who will probably want to be seen to be doing something about the enviornment and has the money to spare to do it.

Be under no illusions, whilst Wall Mart focuses on price, because its customers shop on price first quality second.
Marks & Spencers customers shop on image, quality & health, with price almost last.

M&S can probably afford to sneak its prices up a little to pay for this.

My regular local shop (ASDA, owned by Wall Mart) where I buy the bulk of my groceries, could not afford to sneak its prices up, as I'd notice and start shopping elsewhere. (like Tesco)



Plan A is a fantastic idea.

Yes the customer base of Marks & Spencer is of a calliber of rival supermarkets. However, a £200 million invest would be a dip in the ocean on Asda's annual profits and the super giant of Wal-Mart! Prices wouldn't have to be increased as most of the major supermarkets are making up to a 5-6 times profit margin on most goods sold!

Ethical trading is key, and M&S have been in the fore front of this for the past 30 years - well before it came fashionable!

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