M&S saves £185 million through sustainability

8 June 2012

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10 June 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has saved £185 million since implementing its corporate social responsibility programme ‘Plan A’ in 2007.

The retailer had expected its sustainability plan to cost the company around £200 million when it was first launched five years ago, but revealed in its 2012 corporate social responsibility report that increased efficiency had allowed it to achieve £185 million to reinvest in the business.

How We Do Business Report 2012 revealed that 138 commitments have been achieved, including the recycling of all waste and being certified as carbon neutral in January. The company’s operations, including stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, are now carbon neutral.

Some 30 commitments are in progress, six are behind schedule and a further six have not been achieved. The company is behind on its commitment to improve energy efficiency at its top 100 clothing suppliers and has failed on its commitment for 10 per cent of cotton sold in stores to be Fairtrade by 2012. It blamed the complexity of the cotton supply chain and poor availability of material as the reason for the failure.

“Implementing new business models will necessitate more resilient and transparent supply chains. To this end we are already working with suppliers on a series of best practice programmes and factory standards on sustainability,” said M&S chief executive Marc Bolland in the report.

Supply chain waste reduction was achieved by helping farmers improve technical efficiency and reduce their environmental impact by sharing knowledge. And the cocoa supply chain is now sustainable as a result of supplier and expert intervention.

Commitments for the future include making all supply chains fair and environmentally sustainable by 2020.

“I am proud of what we've achieved. We now have a better, greener and more ethical Marks & Spencer,” added Bolland.

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