How We Do Business

Chemicals in textile production

To ensure the safety of our customers, people who work in our supply chains and the environment we were the UK's first major retailer to launch a chemical compliance policy in 1998. This banned the use of hazardous chemicals such as alkylphenol ethoxylates (known as APEOs) and heavy metals and was gradually extended to cover textile printers, finishing facilities, laundries and tanneries as well as dyehouses.

Environmental and Chemical Policy

The M&S approach to chemical management has never stood still and has continually evolved. After extensive consultation with industry experts, in 2011 we updated our standards as the M&S Environmental and Chemical Policy (ECP) to include new modules providing guidance and best practices for our suppliers. For the first time, we also included sections on environmental management and minimising water and energy use. In 2013 we  updated again with new sections on APEOs and tanneries.

The fundamental principle for our approach to managing chemicals in our supply chain is that no dyehouse can join the M&S supply chain without first complying with our Environmental and Chemical Policy. Every dyehouse must complete a rigorous audit before being considered suitable for M&S production, and the performance of the dyehouse is reviewed regularly.

Greenpeace Detox 2020 campaign

In 2012 M&S signed up to Greenpeace’s Detox 2020 campaign and worked with the NGO to develop new chemical commitments that have strengthened our Environmental and Chemical Policy. The ultimate aim is to achieve zero discharge from M&S dyehouses by 2020.

September 2013 update

We remain fully committed to the campaign, are still the only UK company to have signed up and have made good progress in the past twelve months. The M&S Restricted Substance List has been updated, with additional chemicals included and tighter limits applied. A new M&S PFC policy has been created and work has begun to eliminate its use by July 2016. Five M&S supplier dyehouses have taken part in a disclosure trial and the level of product testing to ensure compliance to M&S standards have been increased. Additionally M&S has announced a pilot Eco Dye House project that will identify the best practice needed to comply with the M&S standards. The learnings from this project will be rolled out across the M&S supply chain.


A full set of commitments agreed with Greenpeace can be viewed here.

Our Environmental and Chemical Policy, including the M&S Restricted Substance List, can be viewed here:



As well as implementing and assessing our policy, we work with universities, chemical manufacturers, machinery manufacturers and dyehouse suppliers to develop innovative ways to produce our products.

As part of Plan A, M&S launched three eco-dyehouses that have been used as test beds for new environmental concepts and technology. As a result, processes are now being used in the M&S supply chain that reduce the impact on the environment such as Cold Batch Dyeing, a process that, on average, uses 50% less water and reduces carbon by 30%. 1.3 million M&S products have now been made using Cold Batch Dyeing.

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