In its latest sustainability report, How We Do Business, Marks & Spencer says that in January 2007 it was prepared to invest £200m over five years in its sustainability plan, Plan A, but cost savings made on climate change and waste initiatives have already made it cash positive.
M&S says that 39 of the 100 commitments under Plan A have been completed and that, of these, 24 of the targets have been raised.
The new report puts the environment front and center. Retailers, according to recent research from Covalence, have entered a new age of corporate citizenship in which not only working conditions but environmental impacts of production and products are playing a large role on reputation. M&S ranked at number one as the most reputable company in the eyes of British consumers in the UK rankings of the Global Reputation Pulse Study 2009 published by the Reputation Institute.
Some highlights of the M&S report:
After 12 months, the decision to charge 5p for single use food carrier bags has cut the use of the bags by 83% from 464 million to 77 million bags – the £1.2m profit generated from the charge has gone to the environmental charity Groundwork.
The company, which aims to make its operations in the UK and Republic of Ireland carbon neutral, only using offsetting as a last resort, has reduced CO2 emissions in its stores, offices, warehouses and delivery vehicles by nearly 100,000 tonnes, an 18% decrease on our 2006/7 baseline. At the same time, M&S has increased store space by 10%.
The company and npower have signed the UK retail sector’s biggest renewable energy contract. The six year deal will see npower provide M&S with 2.6 TWh of renewable electricity from April 2009 – enough to ultimately power all of the retailer’s stores and offices in England and Wales.
The company says that last year it used around 37million two-litre bottles to make polyester, which is used in its homeware and bedding as well as in polyester garments and re-usable shopping bags.
It also helped one of its Chinese suppliers open the latest green factory in its supply chain (that makes four). The factory uses around 40% less water and power than a standard comparable garment factory. It also features a grass roof as well as solar light pipes.