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Green Gas has made the headlines this week - it has reached a milestone whereby it supplies 1 million UK households. According to the G...

Calendar Posted 3 March 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

Nowadays all companies need to demonstrate their green credentials to stay ahead of the game. One of the most high profile UK based companies who have taken sustainability to the heart of their business is Marks & Spencer plc. I have written this blog to consider the success of their 'Plan A' sustainability strategy and how it has been boosted profits as well as helped the environment.

Plan A came to fruition in 2007 as M&S struggled to built their profits after a decade of tough trading. The then CEO, Stuart Rose, had been inspired by Al Gore's ground breaking film, "An Inconvenient Truth" and Plan A was established to make M&S the world's most sustainable retailer. Extensive customer research showed that M&S customers felt that going green was important to them.

Plan A set 100 targets were drawn up, built around five key pillars in dealing with customer and suppliers - climate change, waste, natural resource, fair partnership, health and wellbeing. Initiatives to set up to significantly reduce packaging by 26%, landfill waste was cut by 28% and refridgerator emissions dropped by 60%. And food bags were reduced by an amazing two billion!

Other projects included reducing energy consumption in store and the "shwopping" scheme to encourage shoppers to donate clothing to charity. Clothes hangers and bin bags were recycled and staff were trained to become more energy efficient.

The return of investment shows how important it is for a company to keep the long term view; M&S invested ?200 Million in the 5 year initiative. It took two years before the investment broke even. But by end of the third year it had made a net profit of ?50 million, rising to ?70 million in year 4 and ?105 million in year 5.

A further 80 projects were added in 2010 and the net profit of the initiative has reached £135 million in the last financial year. M&S can now claim to be UK's first carbon neutral major retailer and has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 22% since 2007 thanks to reducing its electricity consumption, gas leaks from refridgerators and improved fuel efficiencies. And this is over the same period of time when sales went up by 18%. M&S sends no waste to landfill and all its fish and most of its paper, packing and wood being responsibly sourced.

by M Roper | 3 March 2014

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