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Collaborative Working

The size and complexity of most sustainability and societal issues mean they cannot be addressed by any one solution or any one organisation. Progressive collaborations between businesses, governments, NGOs and consumers are essential to find innovative solutions and achieve systemic change at the required pace.

Commitments and targets
Our ambition is to accelerate change by leading with others. We’re committed to working collaboratively with suppliers, civil society, the science community, governments, customers and other businesses. Some Plan A commitments and targets can only be achieved through collaboration.

We focus on challenges that are important to our business and those which we can influence.

Approach
Our collaborations comprise multiple organisations working together to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. We invest in collaborations that deliver tangible outcomes, working at all levels – from local communities to international forums.

We are focussing on six areas we believe are most crucial to delivering our systemic change ambitions: demonstrating the business case for sustainability; climate change; deforestation; product sustainability; circular economy; and enhancing the lives of people and communities. 

This table summarises some of the collaborations we’ve been involved in recently:

Demonstrating the business case for and a progressive approach to responsible business
Accounting for sustainability
We support the principles of the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC) Integrated Reporting Framework and advocate a smart approach to translating social and environmental impacts into financial models. 



We also took part in the development and testing of a Natural Capital Accounting Protocol, alongside a consortium of other organisations, led by the Natural Capital Coalition. 
Responsible and sustainable business
We’re founding members of The Prince’s Responsible Business Network Business in the Community (BITC) and contribute to many programmes and Leadership Teams across the responsible business agenda. These include Workwell, Talent and Skills, Business Action on Homelessness, Environment, Marketplace and The Prince’s Countryside Fund. We share good practice and create tools to enable UK companies to progress in their approach to sustainable business.

We’re a pioneer partner with Forum for the Future, an independent non-profit organisation working globally with business, government and other organisations to solve complex sustainability challenges. We’re active members of the Sustainable Business Model Group.
Engaging in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help the world move to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy
Phasing out HFCs
We recognise the importance and increasing contribution that HFCs and derivative chemical refrigerants are making to total greenhouse gas emissions. Through the Consumer Goods Forum we’re working with others to begin phasing-out HFC refrigerants and replacing them with non-HFC refrigerants (natural refrigerant alternatives).

Sustainable water stewardship

We’ve been working with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), WWF and our stone growers in South Africa. AWS promotes responsible use of freshwater, that’s socially and economically beneficial as well as environmentally sustainable. Our collaboration has helped farmers to make a number of improvements, including changes to irrigation technology, which have shaped the AWS standard that was launched in 2014.

Eliminating deforestation from the use of key commodities in the production of products by 2020
Reducing deforestation and forest degradation
Recognising the role of forest protection in mitigating climate change, and building our substantial progress to date, we aim to achieve zero deforestation from the use of palm oil, soy, cattle and paper materials in the production of our products by 2020. 

Through our membership of the Consumer Goods Forum we collaborate to achieve the joint commitment of zero net deforestation by 2020. We co-chair the CGF Sustainability Steering Committee and are actively involved in the CGF Soy Working Group. 

This work enhances our involvement in multi-stakeholder initiatives by urging governments to make the United Nations REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) a priority for supporting appropriate local and national policies that protect forests and support livelihoods.

We’ve been a member of WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network since 2004. We also participate in the FSC improvement group. This comprises major multinational forestry companies, WWF, Greenpeace, and the FSC leadership team. We’re a lead member of the British Retail Consortium’s Timber Working Group and a member of the Tropical Forest Alliance, which was founded by the Consumer Goods Forum and the US Government and is now hosted by the World Economic Forum

Responsible sourcing of soy
The Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to support soy production that’s economically viable, socially equitable, and environmentally sound. It provides civil society and businesses with the opportunity to jointly develop systems that lead to responsibly grown soy.

M&S is an active member of RTRS and participates in RTRS forums and engages directly with the Board. We're committed to purchasing a proportion of RTRS certificates equivalent to the soy used in our Oakham™ chicken products while working with industry and other stakeholders to establish ways to scale up availability of deforestation-free soy within mainstream markets.

Responsible sourcing of palm oil
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) aims to transform markets to make the use of sustainable palm oil the norm. It aims to implement a global standard for sustainable palm oil and unites stakeholders from across the supply chain. RSPO’s 2,000 members represent 40% of the palm oil industry, covering all sectors of the global commodity supply chain.

We’re an active member of RSPO and sit on its Board.

We’ve asked our suppliers to buy palm oil that’s certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil whenever it’s available. We then buy GreenPalm certificates for the volumes which are not certified, in order to support the market for sustainable alternatives.

Improving the sustainability of consumer products and championing a common global approach to product sustainability
Improving product sustainability
Our ultimate vision is a global approach to sustainability that’s progressive, transparent, credible and scalable.

The Sustainability Consortium aims to drive science-based sustainability for consumer products, through a multi-stakeholder, collaborative approach across sectors and geographies. We joined the consortium in 2010 to share our experience and expertise.

Sustainable clothing
We’re looking for many different ways to make the clothing we sell more sustainable – in their production and their use by customers. The Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) convenes the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) and we’re an active member of its Steering Group.

SCAP’s ambition is to improve the sustainability of clothing throughout its lifecycle. By bringing together industry, government and the third sector it aims to reduce resource use and develop sector-wide targets. Leading clothing sector companies have pledged to measure and reduce their environmental footprints and signed the SCAP 2020 Commitment.

The Steering Group comprises major retailers, brands, recyclers, sector bodies, NGOs and charities, and four working groups: Re-use & Recycling, Influencing consumer behaviours, Metrics and Design for Longevity. We participate in the Metrics working group.
Sustainable cotton
Cotton represents nearly half the fibre used to make clothes and textiles worldwide. We aim to source 70% of our cotton from more sustainable sources by 2020. We are currently at 42%.

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) works with key players at each stage of the process of cotton production to reduce negative environmental and social impacts, and ultimately transform cotton production worldwide.  Since 2009, we’ve worked with WWF and 18,500 farmers who’ve been certified as BCI farmers in Warangal and Karimnagar districts in India, where much of our cotton comes from. Participating farmers have achieved higher net incomes than conventional farmers, and used 22% less commercial fertilisers, 18% less chemicals and 16% less water (2013/14). 
Sustainable fish

We’ve had a responsible fishing policy for 15 years, supported by our Forever Fish initiative. All our wild fish comes from the most sustainable sources available and is either: certified as sustainable; participating in a Fishery Improvement Project; or working to make improvements with WWF.


Through our partnerships with the Marine Conservation Society and WWF we’re helping to protect our sea life and beaches for the future. We’ve been engaged in an international partnership of sea-users called Partnerships Involving Stakeholders in the Celtic Sea Ecosystem (PISCES) that bought together many different stakeholders to develop practical guidelines to promote a healthy marine environment and sustainable livelihoods.

Accelerating the transition to a sustainable circular economy
Sustainable circular economy

The circular economy is an important part of our Plan A commitments and we’re prioritising business model innovation and putting circular ways of working into practice. We’re a member of the Circular Economy 100 (CE 100) group run by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and are working with them and BSR to understand how to apply the principles of the circular economy with in our business.


We’ve identified key opportunities in durability and re-use or recycling for clothing, reducing waste and the carbon impact of packaging for food, and re-using store equipment.


Find out more about our approach to waste and the circular economy.

Enhancing the lives of people and communities
Addressing youth unemployment
Our commitments to provide vocational training and work experience for young people not in education, employment or training  - with M&S and in our supply chain -  are part of a larger programme we helped create called Movement to Work. Nearly 200 employers have joined to date, including Accenture, Asda, BAE Systems, Barclays, BT, Centrica, Civil Service, Compass, DHL, Diageo, GSK, HSBC, ISS, Manpower, Marriott, M&S, National Grid, NHS, Sodexo, Tesco, Unilever, Whitbread and WPP. 

Movement to Work is supported by The Prince’s Trust, Jobcentre Plus, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry. 

Since its launch, Movement to Work employers have created more than 40,900 vocational training and work experience opportunities for young people, with an estimated average into-work rate of 51%.

Creating healthy high streets
The Business in the Community Healthy High Streets programme is a collaboration between high street retailers Boots UK, Santander, Greggs, EE, Booker, Exterion Media, M&S and high streets up and down the UK. 

The initiative aims to provide intensive support for 100 high streets over a three year period to help them achieve their potential. It’s focused on increasing footfall by 10%, reducing vacant lots by 20%, supporting the creation of 3,000 jobs and increasing pride in the local area, by providing access to business expertise and resource. We’ve seconded a senior member of the M&S team to BITC, to help drive the collaboration.

A new approach to consumption
Collectively is a new global movement to engage millennial consumers (18-30 year olds) around the world, in a new approach to consumption.

Collectively was born out of conversations at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2013. World business leaders acknowledged that we have to find a better way of satisfying the consumption needs of a growing global population. 

The Collectively platform tells stories, it uncovers and celebrates the people and ideas that are making a better world a reality everyday - from great food, fashion, design, architecture and technology that are also better for people and planet - so they can inspire us to start making change happen now.

Major brands including Unilever, BT, Coca Cola, Carlsberg and M&S were then joined by Google, Facebook, Twitter, Audi and Pepsi as well as the global media companies Vice and WPP and the NGO Forum for the Future to make this happen.
Driving convergence in responsible sourcing practices
We were a founding member of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex), which was established in 2004 as a mechanism to drive improvements and convergence in responsible sourcing practices. We’re represented on the Sedex Board and chair the Sedex Associate Auditor Group. Through Sedex we’ve shared best practice on data, assessments, training of auditors and audit quality.


Every year we participate in projects with different suppliers and stakeholders, to increase and share our understanding of root causes and develop effective solutions.

Find out about our approach to building partnerships


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Find out about our approach to advocacy on public policy and thought leadership


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