Major UK group Marks & Spencer has launched a programme to become the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015. Plan A involves 80 commitments to eco-innovation and fair trade.
The Marks & Spencer (M&S) 2010 programme will extend action launched in 2007. Plan A is a comprehensive scheme through which M&S hoped to become more efficient and environmentally friendly. Sustainable innovation is a key aspect which M&S believes will help achieve its goal. Over five years, €55 million will be invested in a Plan A incubator to develop new Plan A products and services.
M&S is pledging to make 50% of 2.7 billion individual items 'Plan A products' by 2015, and 100% by 2020. Items will fit the Plan A criteria if they carry a well recognised external environmental or social standard, such as Fairtrade or Marine Stewardship Council certification, or use free range or sustainable ingredients.
“Since we launched Plan A in 2007, we've reduced our environmental impact, developed new sustainable products and services, helped improve the lives of our local communities and saved around €55 million by being more efficient,” says M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose.
Since 2007, Plan A has reduced the company’s environmental impact in a number of ways. For example, by adopting new approaches, energy efficiency in M&S stores has been improved by 10%. Moreover, an innovative aerodynamic ‘tear-drop’ lorry has improved fuel efficiency in logistical operations by 20%. M&S has opened one new ‘green’ factory and refurbished three existing facilities in China, Sri Lanka and Wales that now use 50% less energy and less than half the water required by traditional factories.
In 2009/10, Plan A cut CO2 emissions by 40 000 tonnes. 10 000 tonnes of packaging were saved, 20 000 tonnes of waste were diverted from landfill and water use was reduced by 100 million litres. Furthermore, through a partnership with Oxfam, two million tonnes of garments have been recycled.
M&S has also launched a competition to encourage customers to come up with their best 'green' ideas. The winner of the 'Your Green Idea' will see their winning idea implemented across the more than 700 M&S stores in the UK, and will also receive a prize of a €110 000 'green' improvement fund for the organisation of their choice.
In addition, M&S has committed to building 200 new Plan A factories which will feature ethical and/or environmental aspects. Furthermore, all cardboard for M&S food packaging will be sourced from a single 'model' forest programme.