M&S becomes ‘carbon neutral’

First major UK retailer to meet its sustainability targets says results show there is also a strong business case for going green

M&S has become the first major UK retailer to become fully ‘carbon neutral’, the company said on Thursday, five years after launching its sustainability project, ‘Plan A’.

But despite the company’s progress in meeting many of the targets in its programme, its management admit disappointment at its failure to meet some of the more ambitious challenges, such as tripling sales of organic food and drink.

The 2012 How We Do Business Report, published on Thursday, sets out in detail the progress of the 180 commitments set out to ensure sustainable policies are at the heart of every aspect of its business, including its complex international supply chain.

The social and environmental issues addressed by M&S range from energy saving and carbon emissions to Fairtrade and animal welfare; from waste management to sustainable sourcing of timber and fish.

In 2010 it announced an extended Plan A with 80 new commitments to achieve by 2015 and the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.

The new report reveals that 138 commitments have been achieved and a further 30 are ‘on plan’, ie on target to be met within the specified timescale. Overall the net benefit of Plan A to the business last year was £105m – a 50% increase on the £70m delivered in 2010/11.

The company says it is now fully carbon neutral, after reducing energy usage by 28% through more efficient refrigeration, and counting renewable energy tariffs and offsetting.

Read the full story on the Guardian’s website here…