The buying power of a large retailer should not be underestimated. For this reason large companies have a corporate social responsibility and need to set an example in their industries through ‘best practices’ that have a positive influence on the environment and society.
M&S are one example of such a business and at the beginning of this month they announced their plan to become “the world's most sustainable major retailer.” Through operation Plan A, they will make “180 commitments to achieve by 2015”.
These 180 commitments will involve “working with our customers and our suppliers to combat climate change, reduce waste, use sustainable raw materials, trade ethically, and help our customers to lead healthier lifestyles” say M&S.
Plan A originally commenced in January 2007 with 100 commitments to achieve in 5 years. This has now been extended to 180, as has the time frame to 2015.
“By extending Plan A we will reach further, move forward faster and challenge ourselves to be even bolder. It will allow us to make a far greater positive impact on the environment, our customers’ lives and the communities in which we operate. We believe it will also make us a stronger and more successful business” says Stuart Rose (M&S Executive Chairman).
This is an immense project that is summarised in a hefty sixty page document.
M&S have identified “5 pillars” where they can extend their social and environment commitments:
1. Climate change
3. Natural resources
4. Fair partnership
5. Health and wellbeing
Across these 5 areas, M&S will work with customers, suppliers and staff to execute change.
Examples of some key changes identified across these areas include:
• Aiming to make all our UK and Republic of Ireland operations (stores, offices, warehouses, business travel and logistics) carbon neutral by 2012. (Climate change commitment).
• Collect at least 70% of the clothing hangers we use and re-use 85% of these by 2012. (Waste commitment).
• Work towards M&S fruit, vegetables and salads being 75% pesticide residue-free by 2015 and 100% pesticide residue-free by 2020. (Natural resource commitment).
• Sourcing as much food as possible from the UK and Republic of Ireland by 2012 (Fair partnership commitment).
• Introducing 1500 Healthy Eating Advisors in our stores by 2010 and extend this training to our food section employees by the start of 2010 (Health and wellbeing commitment).
“Our extended Plan A will reach further and move us faster - covering every part of our business and reaching out to forests, farms, factories, lorries, warehouses and into our customers’ and employees’ homes. We believe sustainability is a key ingredient of business success and that Plan A will continue to make us more efficient, develop new markets and build customer loyalty. It’s therefore not just the right thing to do morally but also makes strong commercial sense,” Rose said.
Where a healthy environment and lifestyle is concerned, M&S rightly state “there is no Plan B”.
For more info, visit the M&S Plan A Commitments Report:
Read Inside Retailing article, M&S to become green leader: