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M&S Sells a Billion ‘Eco or Ethical’ Items

Cotton sourced to Better Cotton Initiative standards is being used to make 900 Marks & Spencer products, as the company announced that 35 percent of its products now have an ecological or ethical attribute.

Beginning in June 2013, all of M&S’s pure cotton and cotton-rich school uniforms will use BCI cotton, which is grown using less fertilizer, less water and fewer chemicals, M&S said. The retailer has purchased 4,000 metric tons of BCI cotton in the past six months and plans to increase that to more than 15,000 mt in the next three years.

The company, in a six-month update of its 180-commitment Plan A sustainability program, said 35 percent of M&S products sold now have a Plan A attribute. That amounts to more than a billion items sold every year with an eco or ethical quality above the market norm, M&S said.

The target is for 50 percent of products to have the Plan A designation by 2015 and 100 percent by 2020, M&S said.

M&S also gave a progress report on its Shwopping recycling initiative, which allows customers to donate any item of clothing, of any brand, to be re-used, resold or recycled by Oxfam. M&S customers have “shwopped” 2.2 million used and unwanted pieces of clothing in M&S and Oxfam stores since the scheme launched in April. The figures mean over 865 metric tons of clothing has been diverted from landfills, M&S said.

M&S also said that its new distribution center, set to open next year, features Europe’s largest solar wall. The wall absorbs the sun’s energy to heat fresh air, which is used to help heat and ventilate the warehouse.

Plan A was launched in 2007 with 100 commitments and extended in March 2010 by a further 80. The program, which has already achieved its goal of sending zero waste to landfill, focuses on involving customers and tackling issues such as climate change, waste, raw materials, health and being a fair partner, said M&S.

M&S announced in October it had adopted stricter rules on the use of chemicals in its supply chain, including a commitment to end the use of all PFCs by July 2016.

The company worked with Greenpeace to develop new chemical commitments and strengthen its Environmental & Chemical Policy, standards that all dyehouses have to meet in order to work with M&S suppliers.

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