M&S cuts waste, emissions and energy use to save cash

10 June 2011

10 June 2011 | Angeline Albert  

Marks & Spencer made £70 million efficiency savings last year as a result of its corporate social responsibility strategy known as ‘Plan A’.

This compares with £50 million achieved thanks to the scheme in 2009/10.

The UK retailer’s 2011 How We Do Business Report shows that 95 of the 180 commitments made when Plan A started in 2007 have been achieved and 77 are on target. Of the remainder, seven are behind schedule and one – a biodiesel carbon emissions target - is on hold.

Achievements made by the retail giant last year include reducing carbon emissions by 13 per cent, improving energy efficiency by 23 per cent, reducing waste by 34 per cent and cutting packaging by 26 per cent. Initiatives such as improved energy efficiency in stores and distribution centres saved £13.5 million last year. Using less fuel saved £2 million and cost reductions related to packaging totalled £11 million.

M&S aims to make all its UK and Republic of Ireland operations in its stores, offices, warehouses, business travel and logistics carbon-neutral by 2012. Carbon emissions dropped by 8 per cent in 2009/10 compared with 2006/07 figures.

The company is working with its logistics suppliers to further reduce emissions in its supply chain. This includes improving the efficiency of deliveries to distribution centres by using more rail transport by 2012. “We’ve set up a team dedicated to helping food suppliers improve efficiency and reduce costs when they re-tender their transport contracts. We also delivered nearly 10 million items of general merchandise directly to our international businesses to reduce unnecessary transport. We label all air freighted food and only use this transport as a last resort. As well as extending UK growing seasons, we’ve replaced airfreight with sea or road freight wherever possible,” the report said.

To significantly reduce its CO2 emissions by 2012, the group said it had mobilised its key suppliers via the ethical supplier exchange database SEDEX. This enables companies to share ethical data within their supply chains. M&S said it is also helping suppliers address ‘living’ wage and working hours issues through SEDEX and collaborative networking. To raise labour standards, around 80,000 hours of supplier training was provided around the world by M&S in 2010, up from 21,000 the previous year.

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