In an update on its sustainability programme, Plan A, M&S said its commitment is driving more sustainable consumption amongst customers, while embedding Plan A in every buying department. The company’s target is to achieve 50% of products by 2015 and 100% by 2020.

Talking to edie today, head of delivery for Plan A, Adam Elman, said: “The whole point about this commitment, to get every single one of our products to have a Plan A attribute, is driving it into day-to day-processes. In this case it’s the buyers and the merchandisers thinking about sustainability and Plan A as part of their day job”.

“The targets in place are just as important as margin targets, sales and merchandising. What we’re not saying is that these are the most sustainable products in the world – we’re saying we’re starting to raise the bar across everything. And whilst we report on the products that have a Plan A attribute, clearly our goal is for our products to have multiple attributes and become truly sustainable,” he added.

Driving renewable energy generation, the update also announces the installation of Europe’s largest solar wall, featured on the company’s new distribution centre in Castle Donington.

Equivalent to more than 16 tennis courts, the sun-facing wall absorbs the sun’s energy to heat fresh air, which is used to help heat and ventilate the warehouse.

The wall is expected to provide energy savings of 1.1GWh, the equivalent energy use of two large M&S stores, and make CO2 savings of over 250 tonnes per year.

M&S project manager at Castle Donington, Roger Platt, said: “There’s a compelling case for renewable energy, both from a business and environmental point of view, when we build large, out-of-town sites.

“At our store in Cheshire Oaks a biomass boiler provides 70% of the store’s heating and here at Castle Donington the solar wall was the best possible option with such a large, south facing wall. The technology offers one of the fastest returns on investment of any solar technology currently available,” he added.

Other areas of improvement include the company’s clothes recycling initiative, Shwopping, passing two million pieces of clothing. M&S customers have recycled 2.2 million used and unwanted pieces of clothing in M&S and Oxfam stores since the scheme launched in April 2012.

According to M&S, the latest figures show that over 865 tonnes of clothing has been diverted from landfill and around £1.5m has been raised. In addition to this, the retailer has recycled 150 million clothes hangers.

Leigh Stringer

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