M&S leads the way in going greener

Marks & Spencer is the first major retailer to become carbon neutral, it has claimed, five years after launching its sustainability project Plan A.

All M&S-operated stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets in the UK and Ireland had been certified as carbon neutral, and it now recycled 100 per cent of its waste and sent nothing to landfill, the retailer announced.

But it said it had not been able to meet six of the original commitments and another six were “behind plan”, reporting a decline of organic food sales in its food halls since 2007 due to reduced customer demand and a failure to convert a planned 20 million clothing garments to Fairtrade cotton because of difficulties with the supply chain.

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It had also been unable to convert all fresh turkey, geese, pork and duck to free range while responding to customer demand to stock higher-welfare products.

The Plan A project addresses social and environmental issues such as energy saving and carbon emissions, waste management and sustainable sourcing and Fairtrade and animal welfare.

The retailer’s 2012 How We Do Business Report reports achieving 138 of the 180 targets set out under Plan A, with a further 30 “on plan”.

Its carbon neutral status meant it had significantly reduced its carbon emissions and bought carbon offsets to balance out the remaining amount.

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Greenhouse gas emissions were down by 22 per cent since 2007, achieved by cutting electricity use, reducing gas leaks from refrigeration and improved fuel efficiency.

It installed recycling centres in all M&S stores and warehouses.

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