Marks & Spencer, Lexmark Report Environmental Progress in 2007

Marks & Spencer, Lexmark Report Environmental Progress in 2007

[Editor's Note: This is an updated version that corrects the amount of non-hazardous waste recycled by Lexmark.]

More than a year after Marks & Spencer announced Plan A, its 100-point initiative to overhaul its operations, the UK retailer has made progress on 94 of its goals.

The company's "How we do business report 2008" looks at Plan A, point-by-point. In the majority of cases, Marks and Spencer has started or accomplished its goals. Others have yet to get underway or have stalled, such as its program for using biofuels. After completing a pilot program, the company has suspended use of biofuels until it can identify sustainable sources.

The company's biggest goals include becoming carbon neutral and sending no waste to landfill.

Currently, Marks & Spencer recycles 45 percent of its waste. In 2007-2008, the retailer used 14 percent fewer grocery bags, from 443 million in 2006-2007 to 380 million. The company charges customers for each plastic bag they use and promotes reusable bags. It's also reduced the amount of waste its stores, offices and warehouses send to landfills by six percent, and stores now reduce the prices of food items on the day they reach their display-by date to reduce food waste.

More than 60 percent of the company's power now comes from combined heat and power systems, and 23 percent of its energy comes from renewable sources, either from the grid or small-scale anaerobic digestion and wind power generation.

Plan A's other goals include adding bicycle storage and showers to stores, banning pesticides from food production, selling more organic cotton, using more Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and reducing salt in food products.

Lexmark, too, is working on recycling more and throwing away less. In its "2007 Environmental Sustainability Report" Lexmark overviews its environmental programs and some of the progress it's made.

Last year, the company recycled 68 percent of its non-hazardous waste, sent 21 percent of it to landfills, incinerated 10 percent of it without recovering energy and incinerated one percent with energy recovered. Among hazardous waste, 49 percent was recycled, 17 percent sent to landfills, 30 percent incinerated with energy recovered and four percent incinerated without energy recovery.

The printer maker reuses or recycles all of the parts of ink cartridges that it collects, and last year started a cartridge recycling promotion in Puerto Rico that provides a $2 discount on new cartridges for each cartridge that is returned.

Lexmark has also removed all PVC from inkjet cartridge packaging, replacing it with paperboard and PET or HDPE plastic, and is researching materials to increase the amount of recycled content in products.