M&S saves £70m with sustainability plan

London, UK:  Transpost measures helped Marks & Spencer’s Plan A sustainability programme to contribute £70m in savings for the retailer last year – a rise of almost 50% on its previous results.

The company’s 2011 How We Do Business report confirmed that the savings made by efficiency initiatives substantially outweighed the cost of greening its business.

M&S said better use of energy in stores and distribution centres cut bills by £13.5m last year, while reducing packaging saved a further £11m. Measures to cut fuel saved £2m and recycling or reusing hangers clawed back another £1m.

The introduction of transport innovations such as drag reducing, teardrop-shaped trailers have increased the fuel efficiency of the company’s delivery fleets by around 20%, while renewable energy, rail distribution and environmentally-friendly refrigeration systems have helped achieve a 13% reduction in carbon emissions since Plan A started in 2007.

The company’s goal of using 50% bio diesel in its trucks has been put on hold until “sustainable supplies of crop-derived bio diesel are available”.

The supermarket has now met 95 of its 180 Plan A commitments to improve performance in climate change, waste, natural resources, ethical working and health and wellbeing, meeting five further goals since last November’s half-year results.

A further 77 commitments are on track to be met by 2014, by which time M&S wants to be “the world’s most sustainable major retailer”.

M&S will re-invest the savings into the business, including £10m into the Plan A Innovation Fund, which supports projects examining how to improve the sustainability of products and services.

The report shows that renewable electricity from small-scale generation provides 5% of the company’s total energy. M&S uses hydro, wind and anaerobic digestion generators and sent almost 40% of its food waste to anaerobic digestion.

Operational waste, most of which is recycled, reduced by a third compared with two years ago and all unsold food is recycled.

“Plan A is now integral to the spirit and substance of Marks & Spencer,” wrote chief executive Marc Bolland in a foreword to the report. “Four years on from its launch, Plan A is delivering real benefits to our customers, employees, shareholders and suppliers, as well as local communities and the environment.”