M&S refreshes Plan A strategy to deliver net-zero value chain by 2040

Retailer M&S has refreshed its iconic Plan A sustainability strategy to encompass a new commitment to reach net-zero emissions across its entire supply chain and product category by 2040.

M&S refreshes Plan A strategy to deliver net-zero value chain by 2040

M&S’s Plan A strategy was launched in 2007

The company confirmed in December that it would refresh its flagship Plan A strategy. That decision was partly made as M&S had committed to net-zero emissions in 2020 as part of a cohort of retailers convened through the British Retail Consortium. M&S will aim to be net-zero across its operations by 2035.

M&S has today (30 September) confirmed that Plan A will involve a headline commitment to becoming net-zero across Scope 3 emissions by 2040.

According to the retailer, this will require all areas of the business to decarbonise, with emissions needing to fall by 33% by 2025 from a 5.7million tonne 2017 baseline. 

With the supply chain accounting for 97% of M&S’s emissions, the company’s chief executive Steve Rowe has admitted that the shape of the business will “fundamentally change”.

“We launched Plan A 14 years ago, because we knew then there was no Plan B for our planet. We now face a climate emergency, and in resetting Plan A with a singular focus we can drive the delivery of net zero across our entire end-to-end supply chain,” Rowe said at a business-wide event to more than 70,000 colleagues. “This won’t be easy. We need to transform how we make, move and sell our products to customers and fundamentally change the future shape of our business.

“This is not a far-away promise; we must act now to rapidly cut our footprint. To deliver this, we need our colleagues to better understand the carbon impact of our products and processes, we need to back our suppliers to innovate and adapt to the changing environment and we must work together to help customers enjoy lower carbon lives.”

M&S’s Plan A strategy was launched in 2007 as a pioneering corporate strategy focused on corporate responsibility. In 2017, the strategy was updated to include targets to make all M&S packaging “widely recyclable” by 2022, halve food waste by 2025 and reduce operational emissions by 80% compared to 2007 as part of M&S’s approved science-based target.

Between 2007 and 2017, the Plan A programme has seen M&S exceed its science-based target initiative, having achieved carbon neutrality from its operations. Alongside the 80% emissions reduction target, M&S was aiming to cut supply chain emissions by 13.3m tonnes.

In that time period, Plan A delivered 296 eco and ethical commitments, including improving the energy efficiency of UK and Ireland-located facilities by 39% and reducing carrier bag usage by 80% since 2008.

The wide-spreading initiative has saved more than £750m for M&S and has seen more than 27 million items of clothing “shwopped” since 2008. Other achievements include: sourcing 100% RSPO certified palm oil and converting 99% of wood and 27% of leather to more sustainable sources.

To help deliver a net-zero value chain, M&S has identified 100 colleagues as ‘Carbon Champions’ across key roles in buying, sourcing and operations, while a carbon literacy programme will be introduced for other colleagues.

M&S is collaborating with the wider industry, including The Consumer Goods Forum, the British Retail Consortium, WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2030, Textiles 2030 and the National Farmers’ Union. M&S is a member of the Business Ambition for 1.5°C and part of the Race to Zero campaign.

Matt Mace

Comments (1)

  1. Kim Warren says:

    Not good enough M&S! We don’t have 20 years to fix this. You can make a big start by giving consumers clear info on the C-emissions of every product you sell, so *they* can make big cuts to emissions [UK sales of ready-meals may produce 13million tons/year .. air-freight flowers and veg make 3 tons CO2 per ton flown …]. Something like https://bit.ly/Clabel1

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie