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Working on the Deli counter at the M&S Moortown store in Leeds, I have the opportunity to chat to our customers daily and a topic that regularly comes up is plastic packaging and the actions we’re taking at M&S. 

It became apparent that the issue of plastic is extremely important to our customers, as it is to our business, so I started to think of how we could make a real difference and help our customers to play their part too. I came up with the idea of enabling our customers and the local community to bring in their own containers for lunch. After running this by a handful of customers, I was overwhelmed by their response and so many of them were excited by the prospect of being able to bring in their own container and reduce their single-use waste.

This inspired me to submit my idea through our Suggest to Steve programme – our internal platform for colleagues to suggest ideas, no matter how big or small, to help transform M&S. A few weeks later, I was amazed to receive a response from the hospitality team to say that they loved my idea and would be rolling it out across our Market Place counters, where we sell fresh food to go like salads and rotisserie chicken over lunch. This is such a wonderful scheme, enabling colleagues touching every area of the business to make a contribution to the business – especially as a store colleague where we speak to customers day in and day out, and discover what’s important to them. 

After I found out that my idea was being put into action, I was invited to our M&S Support Centre in London to meet other colleagues who submitted a variety of different ideas. What’s more, I was gifted with my very own reusable Market Place bowl, which I’ll keep forever as a memory of my contribution. It’s a great feeling to know that I’m helping our customers, our business and the planet – one meal at a time.  

The initiative officially launched in stores this week and I couldn’t be prouder. What’s brilliant about this reuse scheme is not only are we enabling our customers to bring in their own containers, but we’re incentivising them with a 25p discount off any Market Place purchase. This is something we already offer on hot drinks to go when customers bring in reusable coffee cups and we know it’s an initiative that really helps to encourage our consumers to shop differently.

While our disposable Market Place containers are primarily made from cardboard and are widely recyclable, I hope this reuse incentive will have a real impact in the long-term by reducing the amount of single-use items on the high street. 

I feel so honoured that my idea has been implemented across every Market Place counter in 23 stores nationwide. Through this process, I’ve learnt that we all have a part to play to reduce single-use packaging and I’m excited to see the change we can make as a business and with our customers, helping them to reuse and reduce waste. I’m incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity to share my passion and to be recognised for it.