This week the company announced a raft of new commitments which it believes will make it the most sustainable retailer by 2015.

Currently only some of the chains lines are Plan A products but by 2020 it aims to ensure that everything it sells will meet these ethical and ecological standards, with an interim target of 50% of products converted by 2015.

The plan also covers the company’s supply chain.

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman of Marks & Spencer said: “Since we launched our eco plan, Plan A, in 2007 we’ve reduced our environmental impact, developed new sustainable products and services, helped improve the lives of people in our local communities and saved around £50 million by being more efficient.

“We’ve now set ourselves the ambitious target of becoming the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015, so that we lead the way in making a positive contribution to the environment and society across everything we do and everything we sell.

“Our extended Plan A will reach further and move us faster – covering every part of our business and reaching out to forests, farms, factories, lorries, warehouses and into our customers’ and employees’ homes.

“We believe sustainability is a key ingredient of business success and that Plan A will continue to make us more efficient, develop new markets and build customer loyalty. It’s therefore not just the right thing to do morally but also makes strong commercial sense.”

Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future, said: “Three years on, Plan A has become an undisputed market leader in terms of corporate sustainability initiatives.

“Through it, M&S is addressing the right things, in the right way, to secure critically important outcomes.

“Forum for the Future is delighted to see how that momentum is being maintained, and the intense focus this time round on helping M&S customers undertake their own Plan A is hugely encouraging.

“It’s not just progress against all the specific actions that matters, but the way in which M&S is transforming its core business model through Plan A.”

Sam Bond

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