Plan A 2025: M&S updates flagship initiative to 'embrace a sustainable future'
Marks & Spencer (M&S) has today (1 June) launched a new roadmap for its Plan A sustainability programme, which includes targets to reduce emissions by 80% and turn the company into a zero-waste business.
Plan A 2025 will build on the success of the first 10 years of the programme and support 1,000 communities and help 10 million people through community and environmental commitments.
Flagship goals of the strategy include aims 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 first 10 years of Plan A have given us the confidence to embrace a sustainable future. Plan A 2025 is now our plan for a future in which a truly sustainable M&S can, in partnership with our customers and stakeholders, have a positive impact in all we do,” M&S’s Plan A director Mike Barry said.
“It will force us to address questions for which we don’t have all the answers to yet and collaborate with others to drive true change across consumer goods industries.”
Alongside a £25m charity commitment and plans to promote healthier products, Plan A 2025 will ensure that all key raw materials will come from sustainable sources, including cotton which has a 2019 deadline.
A quarter of all M&S clothing and home products will be made using 25% recycled material and M&S will collaborate with Oxfam in a three-year partnership to examine sourcing practices and human rights impacts. M&S will deliver an action programme based on these findings annually from 2018.
Independent auditors and M&S’s audit team will report on progress made annually, which includes the M&S Global Community Programme to help one million people in the supply chain build livelihoods and protect the environment. Almost 900,000 suppliers have already benefitted from training in relation to human rights, health care, numeracy and literacy.
In total, 10 pilots will be rolled out with charity partners to help communities deliver “positive, measurable change” which will then be extended to 100 locations.
The past 10 years of the Plan A programme has seen M&S exceed its science-based target initiative, having achieved carbon neutrality from its operations for the last four consecutive years. Alongside the new 80% emissions reduction target, M&S will aim to cut supply chain emissions by 13.3m tonnes.
No Plan B
Plan A has so far 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 49% of cotton, 99% of wood and 27% of leather to more sustainable sources.
Commenting on the launch of Plan A 2025, chair to the programme’s advisor board, Jonathon Porritt, said: “It’s so important that M&S, one of the world’s most trusted and well-loved companies, keeps raising the bar on what it means to be a sustainable retailer.
“On all the big challenges – supply chain, climate, food waste, living wage, human rights, packaging, community investment and so on – the pressure is intensifying and expectations rising. It’s great to see M&S leading the way here.”
M&S has already taken steps with its cotton target. The retailer teamed with other corporates and Forum for the Future to convene a new cross-industry initiative, Cotton 2040, aimed at turning sustainable cotton into a mainstream commodity.
Cotton 2040 was launched last month (May), just one day before M&S scaled its national food redistribution scheme, which connects the retailer's stores to local food charities and community groups, to include chilled food.
“This edition of Plan A reflects the ambition that has been the hallmark of M&S’ efforts since this framework was launched a decade ago,” Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR) chief executive Aron Cramer added.
“Crucially, M&S has met the moment by updating Plan A to address the urgency of business action to address climate, the need to make sustainability relevant and actionable for its customers, and the changing nature of retail in our fast-changing world.”