Our operations have an impact on the environment and society at a both a local and global level. Our biggest impact comes through the products we sell and the way they’re used. Every year we sell around three billion items to tens of millions of customers in the UK and overseas. These customers expect us to make a simple brand promise to them – that we’ll strive in everything we do and every product we sell to offer the most sustainable option possible.
Our supply chain is diverse, long and complex. Social and environmental impacts happen at every stage of every product’s lifecycle and in truth, there is currently no single universally accepted definition of what a sustainable product actually is.
Faced with these challenges, we’re developing a robust, credible approach that will enable us to take action to make our products more sustainable.
Commitments and targets
We want to lead our sector in terms of sustainable consumption and production – offering our customers good value, high-quality products and services.
We’ll produce our products with integrity, ensuring that by 2020, every M&S product we sell has a Plan A best practice social or environmental attribute.
We want every one of the three billion M&S products we sell every year to have at least one Plan A attribute. By Plan A attribute we mean a quality or feature in a product, or part of it, that has a demonstrable positive or significantly lower environmental and/or social impact during its sourcing, production, supply, use and disposal.
The diagram and table below show how we identify and measure Plan A product attributes.
Every product that we define as a product with a Plan A attribute must meet our minimum standards and have at least one approved Plan A product attribute. You can read more about our minimum standards in the responsible sourcing section of this website.
We continually review our Plan A product attribute list and update it as science or stakeholder expectations develop and our experience deepens. Our current list is published along with a number of relevant case studies, in the document How We Define Plan A Product Attributes, which you can download on this page.
We plan to use graphic icons on our website and in our store communications to help customers find and choose products with Plan A attributes.
Our approach to product sustainability is a demanding one, and we don’t promise that all of our products will be sustainable by 2020. But our aspiration is to make a systemic improvement across our entire product offer – ensuring that social and environmental principles are always taken into consideration and inherent in individual products, most likely as multiple attributes. Achieve this, and our customers can be confident that any M&S product they buy is better for them, for the environment, and for the people who made it.
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.
To develop our approach to product sustainability, we’ve worked with many partners, including Forum for the Future
and the Carbon Trust
. There’s a fuller list of these partners in the How We Define and Measure Plan A Attributes document that you can download on this page.
We’ve already done a lot to improve our products’ sustainability credentials, but we know there’s much more to do. And we don’t pretend to have all the answers. That’s why we welcome the views of stakeholders who can help us improve our approach to product sustainability. You can share your views or open dialogue with us at PlanA@marks-and-spencer.com