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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.

Report overview

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.

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