M&S goes 'carbon neutral' as sustainability savings stack up

Marks & Spencer claims to have become the first major retailer to achieve "carbon neutral" status, as part of a sustainability plan that contributed £105m to the business last year.

The savings brought in by the company's Plan A strategy represent a £35m rise on last year's figures, according to today's 2012 How We Do Business report.
Of the 180 environmental, social and economic targets M&S has set itself to achieve by 2015 as part of a goal to become the world's most sustainable retailer, 138 of these have been achieved and a further 30 are "on plan".
Achieving carbon neutrality was one of the core goals set when Plan A kicked off five years ago and the company reached this mark at the beginning of the year for all stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets across the UK and Republic of Ireland through a sharp emissions cut of 22 per cent and the purchase of carbon offsets to balance out the remainder.

M&S has reduced annual carbon dioxide emissions by 158,000 tonnes since 2006/07, despite an 18 per cent growth in sales floor footage, and improved energy efficiency across stores, offices and warehouses by 28 per cent per square foot.

In April it implemented "green" contracts for all the electricity bought directly.

Just under 90 per cent of the supermarket's food waste is sent to AD facilities as part of a policy that has seen M&S recycle 100 per cent of its total waste and send nothing to landfill.

The retailer also claims to use fewer carrier bags, saving 1.7 billion bags during the five years of the Plan A programme, and to have reduced packaging 26 per cent by weight.

Over 30 per cent of M&S products – worth £3bn – come under the Plan A programme, in that they are Fairtrade, organic or made from recycled material.

By the end of the decade M&S wants all three billion of the products it sells each year to have at least one sustainable characteristic

"I am proud of what we've achieved," said Marc Bolland, chief executive of M&S. "We now have a better, greener and more ethical Marks & Spencer."