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18 February 2010

M&S Announces Pioneering Local Authority Recycling Partnerships

Marks & Spencer (M&S) today (18th February 2010) announces four pioneering partnerships with local authorities around the UK to significantly improve kerbside recycling, enabling councils to collect an additional 60,000 tonnes of recyclable material from six million people every year by 2015.

As part of its eco-plan Plan A, M&S will invest £1.25 million over five years in the first partnership with Somerset County Council’s Waste Partnership – enabling the council to add plastics and cardboard to the materials it collects from homes across its five district councils.

Three other similar partnerships are set to be announced later in the year, including Kent Waste Partnership which is in advanced talks with M&S.

These partnerships mark a significant step in delivering ‘closed loop’ recycling as they will ensure that every year approximately 15,000 tonnes of packaging waste will be diverted back into food packaging and reused by M&S. The remaining 45,000 tonnes will be sold to other packaging producers.

The benefits of the partnerships are: 

  • For consumers – more materials such as plastic food and drink packaging and metal trays will be collected at kerbside;
  • For local authorities – recycling capacity will be increased and traceability will be increased to ensure more recycling takes place locally;
  • For M&S – at least the equivalent of food packaging generated by M&S every year (60,000 tonnes) will be recycled in the UK and direct access to recycled material for use in packaging will be ensured.

Dr. Helene Roberts, Marks & Spencer’s Head of Packaging, says: “This is a pioneering project that we believe will change the face of recycling in the UK.

“Since the launch of Plan A in 2007 we’ve been on a journey to make our packaging more sustainable. We’ve achieved a 16 per cent reduction in food packaging and over 90% is now recyclable. In order that we move to the next level, which is making more of our packaging with recycled content, we need more materials at a higher quality collected at the kerbside and made available to our suppliers.

“We are tackling this problem by providing funding directly to the people that can make a difference – local authorities. These partnerships mean that we will get the materials we need to close the recycling loop and a deliver a more sustainable future for food packaging.”

Dan Norris, Minister for Rural Affairs and Environment, says: “I congratulate Marks & Spencer and their partners on taking this innovative step – and putting producer responsibility into direct action. Improvements in the management of packaging waste will require all parts of the chain to work collectively. This will help us achieve the important aims of the Packaging Strategy. This is a really significant first step and I would encourage others to follow this lead.”

Cllr. Derek Yeomans, Chair of Somerset Waste Partnership, says: “It’s a very significant step forward for the UK recycling industry and another first for Somerset. This cross-sector co-operation will foster substantial service improvements for local people, and reduce the environmental impact of both local household waste and high street packaging. Somerset Waste Partnership has a track record of innovation while improving services and we’re happy to have found a like-minded partner in M&S.”

Cllr Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council and Chair of the Kent Partnership says: "This new way of working is a real win for Kent's council tax payers. By working with business to reduce the cost of their packaging we are demonstrating our determination to provide Kent residents with the best value for money."

Cllr Nick Chard, Chair of the Kent Waste Partnership and Cabinet Member for Waste at Kent County Council, says: "This project is highly innovative in that it makes a direct link between the packaging that retailers sell and the cost of its collection from the doorstep by councils. The Kent Waste Partnership and M&S are determined to make it succeed."

Click here to download closed and unclosed loop diagrams:


In 2007 M&S launched its five year eco and ethical plan, Plan A, which includes commitments to stop sending waste to landfill from our UK and Republic of Ireland operations, reduce use of packaging and carriers bags and use packaging materials from sustainable or recycled sources.

- Ends -

Further information …

Marks & Spencer
Daniel Himsworth, M&S Corporate Press Office 0208 718 1618

Somerset Waste Partnership
Somerset Waste Partnership press office 01823 625714

Kent Waste Partnership
Kent Waste Partnership Manager 01622 605979

Kent County Council Press Office 01622 694017

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