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How we do business

Plan A


Our Birstall store in yorkshire has become the first M&S store in the UK to send none of its waste to landfill. All the waste from the store – which is one of our biggest Simply Foods – is now segregated and returned in our lorries for recycling.

For more information about Plan A please visit

Plan A is our five year eco and ethical plan which we launched in 2007. we have already achieved 62 of our original 100 commitments and are on track to meet a further 30, leaving only eight commitments where we face additional challenges.

Our success gave us the confidence to extend plan a in 2010, adding 80 new commitments and extending existing commitments further. the new plan involves all our customers and employees and sets ourselves the ambitious goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015.

Over the past three years Plan A has helped us improve our environmental performance, develop more sustainable products and services and improve the lives of people in communities where we trade. As well as being the right thing to do, it’s also been good for business and over the past year alone Plan A generated £50m additional profit, which we invested back into the business.

Visit the Plan A website at
New commitments added in 2009/10
Total commitments
Number of original 100 commitments achieved so far

In 2009/10, Plan A highlights

  • a reduction in CO2 emissions of 50,000 tonnes;
  • 1.8 million used clothing garments recycled via Oxfam;
  • 20,000 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill;
  • a reduction in 400 million food carrier bags being used by our customers;
  • 130 million clothing hangers recycled or reused;
  • £13.2m invested in community programmes;
  • launch of new products and services, including 300,000 customers from M&S Energy;
  • certified to the Carbon Trust Standard; and
  • awarded Platinum status in the Business in the Community Corporate Responsibility Index.

Climate change

We’re determined to play our part to help tackle climate change and we remain committed to making our UK and ROI operations carbon neutral by 2012.

We’ve cut our carbon emissions by 8%, equivalent to 20% per sq ft by improving our energy efficiency and reducing emissions from our store refrigeration systems.

Our improvements in energy efficiency were achieved by rolling out the lessons learned at our five energy efficiency stores to other stores. This will help us improve on this figure in future. Additionally the efficiency of our General Merchandise delivery fleets has improved by 30%.

To help our customers reduce their carbon footprint we’ve continued to extend our range of energy efficient electrical products and developed M&S Energy which is now helping 300,000 customers cut their energy use.

By 2015 we’ve committed to reduce our energy use by 35% per sq ft, help our suppliers significantly reduced environmental impact and broaden our action on climate change to include more ways to get our customers and employees involved.


We’re reducing waste and recycling wherever possible and have committed to send no operational or construction waste to landfill by 2012. We’re pleased to be able to report good progress.

By the end of 2009/10 we’d achieved an 88% recycling rate and reduced the total amount of waste we generate in our operations by 16%. Food waste has been reduced by 29% with over a quarter of what is left being sent to generate energy. We collected 133 million clothes hangers in-store and reused 76% with the remainder being recycled. We also recycled 89% of our construction waste up from 65% in 2006/07.

We’ve continued to reduce packaging – General Merchandise packaging by 36% and Food by 20% – whilst also using more sustainable materials such as recycled plastics. We encourage recycling and waste reduction in the communities we work in and this year, we are signing deals with four local authorities, including Somerset Waste Partnership, which will help us to close our packaging ‘loop’. These deals will bring us two clear benefits – we will receive more recycled materials to use in our food packaging and we will ensure that the equivalent amount of food packaging we use every year is recycled.

Through the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange, some 500,000 customers have raised £700,000 for Oxfam by returning 1.8 million used M&S garments. The success of our work with Oxfam led to the expansion of the scheme last summer to encourage people to recycle their soft furnishings, including cushions, curtains, throws and bed linen.

A further £1.4m has been raised for Groundwork thanks to donations for our Food carrier bag charging, with their use down by 81% since 2006/07. The money raised is being used to fund 79 parks and play areas, including our 125th anniversary town centre project in Leeds.

We have stretched our waste targets even further and by 2015 our aim is to increase the number of M&S garments recycled annually by Oxfam from 2 million to 20 million and increase the percentage of hangers we recycle to 70%. We will also work with our suppliers to improve their performance on waste and we aim to source 25% of our food (by turnover) from factories that send no waste to landfill within the next five years.

Natural resources

We want to ensure our key raw materials come from the most sustainable sources possible, so we protect the environment and the world’s natural resources. We have already done much work in this area, including becoming the first major UK food retailer to source only pole or line caught tuna for all the tuna products we sell, from sandwiches to steaks, and we also became the first retailer to sign the WWF’s Seafood Charter to ensure our entire range of seafood products comes from sustainable sources. Over 60% of our wild seafood is now either Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified or undergoing MSC assessment.

In October 2009 we purchased GreenPalm certificates to cover all the palm oil used in M&S products and committed to use only sustainable palm oil by 2015, with the first eight ‘sustainable palm oil’ products launched in March this year. We also improved our sourcing of wood materials so that 72% of the wood we use in our products (and 90% of wood products used in construction and store fit-outs) are Forest Stewardship Council certified, recycled or from sources that otherwise protect forests and communities.

Under our new phase of Plan A we are committed to becoming the first major retailer to ensure traceability of all the key raw materials used in our clothing and home products including cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, leather and wood. We will also increase the amount of cotton we source from sustainable sources to 25% by 2015 and 50% by 2020. In Food our aim is to become the first major retailer to ensure that the five key raw materials we use – palm oil, soya, coca, beef, coffee – come from sustainable sources that do not contribute to deforestation.

Fair Partnership

One of the things that sets us apart from other retailers is the way we work with our suppliers. This year we’ve helped our suppliers to set up 10 Ethical Model Factories to demonstrate how good employment practices can result in a more productive workforce and allow for higher wages. We provided over 80,000 hours of supplier training (four times more than last year) and held best practice conferences around the world.

2009/10 was the sixth year of our Marks & Start work experience programme – providing work experience to some 700 participants who otherwise would face barriers to employment, with 40% of them subsequently finding jobs.

We’ve helped our customers and employees raise £2.1m for Breakthrough Breast Cancer during 2009, with £13.1m raised for the charity over the past nine years. This figure, 15% of Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s 2009/10 funding, is used to part fund the Breakthrough Generations Study into long-term causes of the disease. We’ve also supported the Prostate Cancer charity for four years, helping to raise nearly £200,000 in 2009/10 to part-fund a UK-wide helpline.

New developments with our suppliers include our new commitment to become the first major retailer to actively tackle and bring clarity to the ‘living’ wage debate. We will do this by determining and agreeing a fair, living wage before implementing a process to ensure our clothing suppliers pay this wage to their workers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India.

In Clothing and Homeware, we have pledged to work with our suppliers to provide training and education programmes that will include basic healthcare and workers’ rights, for 500,000 workers in their factories. Meanwhile in Food, we are encouraging 10,000 farmers who supply our fresh produce to join our sustainable agriculture programme.

Health and wellbeing

Promoting active, healthier lifestyles for our customers and employees has always been important to us. This year one of our major new launches was our Simply Fuller Longer range, developed in collaboration with the Aberdeen University, to help people eat less by feeling full for longer. Healthier food now makes up 38% of M&S Food ranges.

Since we launched Plan A in 2007 we’ve removed artificial colours and flavouring from all M&S food and soft drinks and met 91% of the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) 2010 salt reduction targets.

We use traffic light nutritional food labelling alongside Guideline Daily Amounts on all FSA recommended categories of food. In 2009/10 we also introduced the use of calorie labelling on price tickets in our cafés.

To give customers and employees the information they need to make healthier choices we’ve improved our online services. These include a ‘healthy lifestyle’ website and a monthly health bulletin for customers, along with a your Wellbeing website and newsletter for employees.

Looking ahead

Despite the recession, we know that environmental and social issues remain important to our customers. Plan A is already delivering considerable benefits and we have made significant progress against our original commitments. Our goal to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015 is an ambitious one. 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 remains the right thing to do both morally and commercially.

Think Green The Your Green Idea judging panel is chaired by Sir Stuart Rose, joined by new CEO, Marc Bolland. The panel also includes the well-known green faces of wildlife Tv presenter, Kate Humble; former director of Friends of the Earth and trustee of WWF, Jonathan Porritt; and environmental writer, Julia Hailes. This panel will decide on the top three green ideas – which will then be put to a public vote for consumers to decide which idea they would like us to put into practice across all our UK stores within the next year.

Available in store and at


Digging Deep Working with environmental charity Groundwork we developed a wildlife habitat at Paddington Recreation Ground in London. The money was raised from profits from our 5p carrier bag charge and the project transformed an under-used area of the park into wetland meadow, making it a great educational destination for local children. This is one of 79 Greener Living Spaces created as a result of the charge.


Find out more about our performance in our full How We Do Business Report 2010 at


Carrier bag use in 2009/10
400 million reduction

Trust & quality

From farm to fork Paul Luney is one of our food technologists, specialising in fish. As part of his role he regularly visits our suppliers to ensure they adhere to our industry leading code of practice. He is pictured here on a visit to a sea farm in Oban on the west coast of Scotland.


Model factories In our Brandix Seeduwa factory in Sri Lanka workers enjoy a subsidised canteen and store, medical facilities, an on site counseller and free financial advice.


PET wine bottles We became the first retailer to convert its entire range of mini (25cl) still wine bottles to PET, a material traditionally used in-flight catering where turnover is very fast. Working in partnership with Paul Sapin and Roger Harris Wines, we developed a new oxygen barrier technology, guaranteed to keep wine fresh for at least 12 months. 88% lighter than glass bottles, PET bottles require less energy to manufacture and reduce the carbon footprint in transport and distribution.

Trust & quality

Our Milk Pledge Plus guarantees the milk prices paid to suppliers reflects the retail price and now includes a bonus payment for high animal welfare standards. Monitored by Bristol vet school (part of Bristol University), the scheme not only provides farmers with greater security, but incentivises them to maintain a healthy herd, so customers can enjoy our milk safe in the knowledge it comes from farms with the highest standards.