Marks & Spencer Ambitious Sustainability Goals

Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) announced a goal to be "the world’s most sustainable retailer" by 2015, launching 80 new commitments under its eco and ethical plan, Plan A.

Among these commitments, the British retailer said it will ensure all products have at least one sustainable quality (e.g. carrying Fairtrade or Marine Stewardship Council certification or using free range or other sustainable ingredients). The company hopes to convert 50% of products by 2015 and 100% by 2020.

Other commitments include:

  • Becoming the first major retailer to actively tackle and bring clarity to the living wage debate. M&S will do this by determining and agreeing a fair, living wage before implementing a process to ensure clothing suppliers pay this wage to their workers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India.
  • Working with M&S suppliers to provide training and education program–including in basic healthcare and workers’ rights–for 500,000 workers in their factories
  • Sourcing all cardboard for M&S food packaging via a single ‘model’ forest program
  • Becoming the first major retailer to ensure full traceability of all the key raw materials used in our clothing and home products including cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, leather and wood; 
  • Becoming the first major retailer to ensure that six key raw materials–palm oil, soya, cocoa, beef, leather, coffee–come from sustainable sources that do not contribute to deforestation, one of the biggest causes of climate change
  • Offering free home insulation and a free home energy monitor to all eligible M&S employees and giving them one paid, day-off a year to work in their local communities

As evidence that consumer behavior can affect corporate operations, a survey found that 72% of people are worried about environmental issues, with 73% saying that the recession had not changed their level of concern.

“We’ve now set ourselves the ambitious target of becoming the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015, so that we lead the way in making a positive contribution to the environment and society across everything we do and everything we sell," Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman of Marks & Spencer said.

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