Marks & Spencer Sustainability Report: Beats Water Goal, Delays Transport Target
Marks & Spencer has beaten its target of a 25 percent cut in water use by 2015, reducing its store, office and warehouse water use by 27 percent, from 67 liters per sq ft in 2006/7 to 49 in 2012/13, according to its 2013 Plan A sustainability report.
Water use was also down 10.9 percent against the 2011/12 level of 55 liters per square foot. Total usage last year was 1,111,320 cubic meters.
The greatest savings came from the identification and repair of 74 water leaks at stores, M&S says. Stores account for 84 percent of all its water use. It also started installing automatic meters at shops to provide more accurate measurements.
The water data in the report is based on a combination of utility bill data and the company’s own automatic meter readings.
The company also says that 27 percent of its M&S Food suppliers improved their water monitoring and efficiency by the end of the year, as assessed using its Food Supplier Sustainability Framework.
The report is arranged according to the pillars and goals of Marks & Spencer’s Plan A sustainability program. This makes it fairly easy to see how the company is progressing against its targets. The report says that as of 2012/2013, Marks & Spencer had achieved 139 targets, is on plan with 31 more, is behind plan on five, has failed to achieve four and has cancelled one. The cancelled standard related to the efficiency of household electrical products, which M&S says it has stopped selling.
Rarely, however, does the report communicate year-on-year progress. So for those 36 goals still in progress, it is difficult to see whether the company improved or slipped behind in the last financial year. For this reason, Environmental Leader compared this year’s and last year’s reports to judge the company’s progress on the key metrics of relative carbon emissions and water efficiency.
The company is now in the second five-year phase of Plan A, with a 2015 deadline for most targets. It achieved most of its 2012 goals, including becoming carbon neutral and sending zero waste to landfill. The company says it plans to publish a revised version of Plan A by the end of 2013.
The report is independently assured by Ernst & Young using ISAE 3000 and AA1000AS. It meets level B of GRI G3.1 and includes a commentary from Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future.
Marks & Spencer’s gross CO2 emissions per square foot of sales space fell 2.9 percent last financial year to 34 metric tons per sq ft, from 35 mt/sq ft the year before.
In 2012/13 its absolute, gross CO2 emissions were 569,000 metric tons, down 0.5 percent compared to 572,000 the previous year, and down 23 percent compared to the 735,000 mt emitted in 2006/7. The company says this is mainly due to more efficient electricity use, reduced gas leaks from refrigeration and better waste recycling levels, and was achieved despite reporting an additional 16,000 mt or so of emissions last year from transport activities previously accounted for by suppliers (see Energy).
In 2012 M&S-operated stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets in the UK and Republic of Ireland became carbon neutral, and the company says it is the first major retailer to do so. This makes a marked change from 2011/2012, when it only offset about 23 percent of its emissions (131,000 of 572,000 mt).
The retailer beat its goal of cutting store refrigeration gas carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2015. In 2012/13, its emissions from refrigeration and air-conditioning were 51,000 metric tons CO2e, down by 60 percent compared with 129,000 mt CO2e in 2006/07.
Allowing for increases in store footage, refrigerant emissions were down 67 percent at 3.1 mt CO2e/1,000 sq ft, compared to 9.4 in 2006/7. M&S says it achieved these reductions by improving maintenance and introducing less damaging R407a HFC gases. It now aims to replace HFCs by 2030.
Direct emissions from the company’s operations were 181,000 metric tons CO2e, up 5.8 percent from 171,000 mt the previous year, and down 26 percent from 244,000 mt in its 2006/7 baseline year.
Indirect emissions were 371,000 mt CO2e, down 4.1 percent from 387,000 in 2011/12 and down 16 percent from 441,000 in 2006/7. Meanwhile, Scope 3 emissions were 17,000 mt CO2e, up 21 percent from 14,000 mt CO2e last year and down 66 percent from 50,000 in 2006/7. The report does not explain why this metric has risen.
The company missed a goal to transport 50 percent of international general merchandise products directly to its retail destinations in 2011/12, rather than routing through the UK, and says it is behind on an 80 percent goal for 2013/14.
Last year, around 36 percent of General Merchandise products (measured by volume) destined for its international business were transported directly, and the company has scaled back the goal to 70 percent by the end of 2015/16. M&S says this commitment has remained behind plan due to significant increases of sales through its international stores and changes to its transport plans for certain types of products.
The company also says it’s struggling to meet its target to reduce business flights by 20 percent per employee by 2013, from a 2007/8 baseline, achieving only seven percent so far – “which means we’ll need to work a lot harder over the next 12 months,” the report says. In July 2012, M&S revised its travel policy, stipulating that air travel can’t be used for any journeys that could be made in under three hours in the UK or using Eurostar.
Energy and fuel efficiency
The company reports a 31 percent improvement in energy efficiency against a 2006/7 baseline, en route to its goal of a 35 percent improvement by 2015. In 2012/13, energy use was 39.6 kWh per sq ft across stores, offices and warehouses, down 4.6 percent from 41.5 the year before.
M&S says that this year it became the first major UK retailer to gain the ISO 50001 energy management certification, and installed improved lighting in about 200 stores. It also reports that 48 out of its top 100 clothing suppliers have implemented energy efficiency best practices for lighting, insulation and temperature control. The company has a 2015 target for 25 percent of M&S food (by turnover) to be produced by factories that have improved energy efficiency at least 20 percent, and says it has reached 9 percent so far.
But fuel efficiency for its Food store deliveries was down 31 percent compared with 2006/07. M&S maintained the fuel efficiency improvement for its general merchandise delivery fleet at 30 percent below 2006/7 levels. The company has a target of a 35 percent fuel efficiency improvement for its stores overall by 2015, but says that due to the merging of other general merchandise transport activities such as collections from suppliers, and the trunking of products between warehouses into a single fleet, this is the last year it will be able to calculate a separate store delivery measurement. These activities, previously carried out by suppliers and sub-contractors, have added about 16,000 metric tons to the company’s annual CO2e emissions. But M&S says it believes the changes have achieved greater emissions savings overall.
M&S beat its goal for 25 percent of its M&S Food (by turnover) to be produced in factories sending zero waste to landfill, by 2015. By the end of last year, 84 suppliers accounting for 32 percent of M&S Food turnover had sent no waste to landfill.
The company also beat a goal of cutting construction waste by 50 percent, per £100,000 project, by 2015. It says it worked with its suppliers, WRAP and the BRE building consultancy to review and improve construction waste minimization practices.
Its “shwopping” clothes recycling program raised £2.3m for Oxfam during the year while reusing or recycling 3.8 million clothing items. M&S also extended the program by launching Shwop at Work, to make it easier for people to donate. It is aiming for 20 million items a year by 2015.
Nearly 11 percent of M&S’s cotton is Fairtrade, recycled, organic or sourced from the Better Cotton Initiative, compared with 3.8 percent in 2011/12. The company says it’s also made good progress on improving the sustainability of farmed fish, palm oil, tea and coffee, but faces challenges in its targets for leather, soy and cocoa.
M&S says that due to the increased difficulty in segregating genetically modified and non-GM soya, in April 2013 it stopped specifying non-GM animal feed for fresh meat and poultry. M&S organic ranges are available as a non-GM feed alternative, the company says.
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