M&S to relaunch Plan A sustainability strategy

M&S is planning to relaunch its industry-leading Plan A sustainability programme in 2021 to reflect on the changing environmental and social needs globally, with a new ESG Board Sub-Committee to be set up to scrutinise the strategy.

M&S to relaunch Plan A sustainability strategy

No information has been released as to what the revamped Plan A will include

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.

The retailer has this week confirmed that the flagship Plan A strategy will be updated again in early 2021 to reflect the acceleration of the climate crisis and put the framework “back at the centre of [the company’s] customer story”.

M&S Chairman Archie Norman said: “M&S was a pioneer in creating an industry-leading, fully integrated sustainability plan under the ‘Plan A’ banner, reflecting values that have been core to M&S’s culture since its inception. 

“The organisation’s inherent and enduring community spirit has been borne out in its response to the pandemic, and in many areas – particularly on sourcing and supply chain standards – we continue to lead the market.”

The relaunch will be spearheaded by a new ESG Board Sub-Committee, that will start working from 16 December. The Committee’s first task will be to agree to a timetable for the Plan A relaunch next year.

No information has been released as to what the revamped Plan A will include, but M&S did commit 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.

On to Plan A

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.

More recently, black packaging has been eliminated from food trays and the retailer has achieved 100% sustainable cotton sourcing and a 70% reduction in emissions compared to a 2006 baseline.

Matt Mace

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