M&S to boost sustainable purchasing

3 March 2010

3 March 2010 | Jake Kanter

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has launched a major drive towards sustainable procurement and says it plans to become the world’s most environmentally friendly retailer by 2015.

The business will fund training and education for half a million of its supply chain workers, as well as sourcing more sustainable materials for clothes and food, and cutting vendor emissions. The fresh commitments were set out this week as part of M&S’s eco blueprint, Plan A.

As well as providing training for supply staff covering healthcare and employment rights, by 2015 a quarter of M&S food will be produced by suppliers with best practice HR standards (such as mature industrial relations policies and those that conduct staff surveys). Vendors in countries such as Bangladesh and India will also be asked to direct zero waste to landfill and cut energy use by 20 per cent.

In addition, construction suppliers are under pressure to reduce the amount of waste they produce by 50 per cent by 2015.

M&S aims to become the first retailer able to trace all of the key materials used in clothing and home products, from source to store. It is to purchase 25 per cent of cotton from sustainable sources by 2015 and 50 per cent by 2020.

The company will ensure its 10,000 fresh meat, dairy, produce and flower suppliers join its sustainable agriculture programme in the next two years. This programme will help farmers tackle issues associated with climate change such as fuel, electricity and fertiliser management, and includes a focus on protecting soil and biodiversity.

M&S has also become the first retailer to sign environment charity WWF’s Seafood Charter to ensure all seafood products come from sustainable sources.

Executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said in a statement: “We’ll continue to work in partnership with suppliers, NGOs, the science community, governments and other businesses to deliver the innovation and changes needed to make sustainability a reality.”

It follows Wal-Mart's plans to cut 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its global supply chain.

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