M&S Product Portfolio to be 100% ‘Eco,’ ‘Ethical’ by 2020

by | Mar 1, 2010

Marks Spencer storefrontUK retailer Marks & Spencer is stepping its plans to sell only items that have at least one “eco” or “ethical” attribute. By 2015, the retailer aims to have half its products meet that standard. By 2020, the goal is 100 percent.

To meet the standard, products should carry a certification such as those performed by the Marine Stewardship Council, Forest Stewardship Council or Fair Trade, or they should otherwise exhibit elements of sustainability. For instance, eggs that were produced from free range hens would pass muster.

The effort is a $75 million extension of Marks & Spencer’s Plan A, which calls for the company, by 2012, to become carbon neutral, send no waste to landfills and extend sustainable sourcing.

As of last June, the company said it had so far met 39 of 100 targets laid under Plan A.

However, the retailer also has its critics when it comes to its environmental impact. A study last year showed Marks & Spencer to be the UK supermarket with the worst packaging impact.

Under the new plan, M&S will work with its 2,000 suppliers to ensure that each and every product has at least one sustainable quality, so that the item can become a “Plan A product,” according to a press release.

It is a mammoth undertaking – in all, M&S has 36,000 product lines.

M&S plans to help suppliers create 200 “Plan A factories,” as well as help 10,000 farmers join the retailer’s sustainable agriculture program.

As one example, all cardboard for M&S food packaging will come from a yet-to-be-determined “model” forest program.

M&S will push through traceability of all raw materials used in clothing and home products.

The retailer has tabbed six raw materials for special attention – palm oil, soya, cocoa, beef, leather and coffee – all of which have been tied to deforestation.

M&S also will reach out to its shoppers, encouraging them to recycle garments. Currently, about 2 million garments are recycled under the program. The goal is 20 million annually.

As for M&S employees, the retailer plans to offer them free home insulation and free home energy monitors.

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