All Marks & Spencer-operated stores, offices, warehouse and delivery fleets in the UK have been certified as carbon neutral, a goal reached by significantly cutting emissions and purchasing carbon offsets.
M&S greenhouse gas emissions are down 22 percent or 158,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent since 2007, despite the company growing sales space by 18 percent over the same period. M&S was able to reduce emissions by cutting electricity use, reducing gas leaks from refrigeration units and improving fuel efficiency.
Marks & Spencer’s 2012 How We Do Business Report, which was released this week, outlines the first five years of progress of its Plan A program. Of the 180 eco and ethical targets in Plan A, M&S has achieved 138 of them. The retailer is on schedule to meet another 30 targets and the remaining 12 commitments are either behind schedule or have not been achieved, including the reduction of water use 20 percent by 2012.
The company’s commitments to reduce emissions, make its supply chain more sustainable and produce less waste was achieved in part through 500,000 hours of training and education, M&S said.
Since the launch of Plan A, M&S has reduced waste by 31 percent or 80,000 tons. M&S recycles 100 percent of that waste. The retailer met that goal by installing recycling centers in all M&S stores, warehouse and offices, and creating a behavioral change among employees through a company-wide training program.
Waste is backhauled and collected by recycling contractors from distribution centers. In some cases, M&S has closed the recycling loop by sending waste to suppliers who use it to make new products for the retailer.
For instance, plastic waste is sent to make new M&S carrier bags. Leftover cardboard is made into food waste boxes, which segregate food waste in stores. Some 89 percent of M&S food waste is sent to anaerobic digestion plants, which converts it into electricity. M&S buys some of that electricity to power its stores.
M&S now uses fewer carrier bags, saving 1.7 billion bags in five years, the report said. The retailers also uses 26 percent less packaging by weight.