M&S moves into clothing rental

Plan A reset: 5 ways M&S is helping customers and staff be greener

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has reset its Plan A sustainability programme, creating what it has called “a singular focus” on becoming a net zero Scope 3 business across its entire supply chain and products by 2040.

The retailer has set out a detailed roadmap to net zero using science-based targets aligned to the UN ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It acknowledges that achieving its target will require rapid decarbonisation of its business to cut its carbon footprint by a third by 2025, from a 5.7 million tonne 2017 baseline.

But arguably for consumers and staff, the most tangible evidence of the retailer’s eco strategy comes in the form of the launch of several green initiatives. Green Retail World outlines the key moves below.

1. Sparks rewards

M&S has launched an incentive programme to reward its 12.5 million Sparks loyalty customers when they donate pre-loved clothes to its Shwopping partnership with Oxfam. From this week onwards, customers can scan the QR code at the shwopping point in any of M&S’s 260 UK clothing stores and a free treat will automatically be added to their Sparks account via the M&S app.

2. Reboot the Future

The retailer has established a new partnership with Reboot the Future, a not-for-profit organisation that works with young people and business leaders, to create resources to make it easier for customers to discuss the challenges and opportunities to live lower carbon lives. The resources are available on M&S.com.

3. Look Behind the Label

The ’Look Behind the Label’ campaign has returned, shining a light on M&S’s planet-positive work and highlighting stories behind responsibly-sourced products. A new Look Behind the Label hub has been set-up online to hold this information, but it also appears on email messaging to customers.

4. Staff Carbon Champions

M&S has identified 100 staff as ‘Carbon Champions’ across buying, sourcing and operations to beat the drum for the race to net zero, and it is creating a learning programme to increase carbon literacy among the business’s wider workforce. Leading authority on carbon foot-printing and author of ‘There Is No Planet B’, Professor Mike Berners-Lee, hosted the first session.

5. Knowledge share

M&S is launching a new online internal ‘Green Network’ so staff can share ideas, inspiration, and innovation.

Having launched Plan A in 2007, M&S was a forward thinker in the retail industry in terms of sustainability efforts.

Now with the scale of the climate challenge become ever more apparent in recent years, Steve Rowe, M&S CEO, has written to the company’s global supplier base and hosted a business-wide event to rally staff behind plans to put “a sustainable future at the heart of its transformation strategy”.

Speaking to stakeholders, Steve Rowe commented: “We now face a climate emergency, and in resetting Plan A with a singular focus we can drive the delivery of net zero across our entire end-to-end supply chain.

“This won’t be easy. We need to transform how we make, move and sell our products to customers and fundamentally change the future shape of our business. This is not a far-away promise; we must act now to rapidly cut our footprint.”

As part of the Plan A reset, M&S will be switching its logo across its social channels to encourage customers to visit the new Look Behind the Label hub, and working with its suppliers “to find new and better ways of doing things”.

The retailer has committed to zero deforestation in palm oil and soy sourcing by 2025, sourcing more sustainable fibres by 2025 and supporting its Select Farm partners to advance lower carbon farming methods via a five-year Farming with Nature programme.

Since January 2021, M&S has run an Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) board sub-committee to provide “robust oversight” of its entire ESG programme, including Plan A, as well as its human rights and ethical trading, and community and animal welfare initiatives.

Read more about M&S on Green Retail World

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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