Marks & Spencer's Plan A Update Highlights Profits, Progress on Going Green

Marks & Spencer's Plan A Update Highlights Profits, Progress on Going Green

M&S store - CC license by Flickr user Matt From London

 U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer has made significant strides on its energy, emissions and waste goals while falling behind on travel emissions, water tracking and organic food sales.

In its latest sustainability report, 2010 How We Do Business Report, M&S provides an update on its first three years of its broad Plan A commitment, which started with 100 goals and recently added 80 more. The Plan A commitments brought in £50 million ($73 million) in profit, all of which has been invested back into the company.

M&S has met 62 of the original commitments announced in January 2007, and plans to meet the rest by 2012. All of the 80 new goals have a deadline of 2015.

Some of the company's many achievements:

  • Reduced total carbon emissions by 8 percent 
  • Improved store energy efficiency by 19 percent, with a goal of 25 percent by 2012 and 35 percent by 2015
  • Reduced store refrigeration emissions by 18 percent
  • Improved general merchandise delivery fleet efficiency by 30 percent
  • Increased recycling rate for operations waste by 53 percent, putting the current rate at 88 percent
  • Reduced waste sent to landfill by 33 percent
  • Reduced non-glass food packaging by 20 percent and non-glass general merchandise packaging by 36 percent
  • Reduced food waste by 29 percent, and sent one-fourth of the remaining food waste to energy recovery facilities
  • Collected 133 million clothes hangers, reused 76 percent of them and recycled the rest

Sixty-two percent of wild fish comes from sources certified by or undergoing certification by the Marine Stewardship Council

In the report, M&S lists every of the 100 goals, notes its current state (achieved, on track, falling behind) and explains how it made progress of what is holding it back.

For store energy efficiency, M&S set up five test stores for trying out equipment, maintenance and training, which included lower watt lighting, automated control systems and LED lighting for freezes. The company is also setting energy efficiency targets for store managers, and will link those targets to performance bonus payments. Much of the improved delivery fleet efficiency came about from a new loading systems that gets more products in each vehicle. And food waste has been cut down by lowering the prices on items on the day that their display date expires.

M&S is also open about where it is faltering. For employee travel, the company set a new policy in place to bring travel emissions down, but emissions have increased by 33 percent since Plan A was launched. The company also notes it has had difficulty measuring water use because many of its locations have to rely on bills that estimate amount of water. Its plan to triple sales of organic foods has hit a snag as organic food sales dropped, even as the company introduced more organic products.

M&S store - CC license by Flickr user Matt From London