Our current strategy is to optimise the amount of packaging that we use which in turn can either be reused or recycled.
We want to help our customers reuse items again and again. That’s why we’ve phased out our single-use carrier bags, in favour of stronger, multi-use versions. We’ve also launched an eco-shopping bag that helps prevent waste and reduce poverty among people living in Haiti and the Philippines. The re-usable bag is made from 75% Social Plastic© - collected and recycled by Plastic Bank, a social enterprise seeking to stop ocean plastic pollution.
Visitors to M&S Cafés will find we serve 99% of hot drinks in reusable china and we encourage customers to bring their own reusable cup by offering a 25p discount, and we've extended this this to our food-to-go Market Place counters to incentivise customers to bring in their own reusable containers. Earlier this year, we started trialling refillable cupboard essentials such as pasta, rice and cereals at our Hedge End renewal format store.
In clothing, we’ve reused and recycled over one billion plastic hangers in the last 12 years by asking customers to leave them at our till points or to bring them back to our stores - even if they’re broken.
We have recognised the importance of recycling for well over 10 years. Over 90% of all the packaging we use is recyclable in the UK and we’re working with partners to develop facilities for the other 10% which includes lightweight and carbon efficient packaging such as multi-layered pouches. We also discourage the use of polystyrene as these materials aren’t recycled.
However, we need more materials at a higher quality collected at the kerbside and made available to our suppliers.
We’re collaborating on projects to improve the availability of recycled materials and reduce the carbon footprint of packaging.
We were one of the founding partners of the cross-industry partnership, Pledge 4 Plastics developed by WRAP and Recoup to promote awareness of the importance of recycling plastic bottles, tubs and trays. We continue to be actively involved and have a seat on the Recoup Board.
We also support WRAP’s Ten Cities campaign
and have sponsored specific action in Greater Manchester. For example, in 2014 we supported an event with the University of Leeds and the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)
on the role of packaging in helping to extend product life with students, academics and local businesses. To help reduce food waste, we also ran a series of cookery classes in Greater Manchester to help people plan and portion effectively, cook with confidence and make the best use of their leftovers. This initiative reached 180 residents and ran in conjunction with an event in the centre of Manchester to help educate consumers about how to avoid food waste and also the important role that packaging plays to protect the product.
We’ve also invested in partnerships to improve national levels of packaging recycling, the first of which was with Somerset County Council’s Waste Partnership
. This has enabled the council to add plastics and cardboard to the materials it collects from homes across its five district councils.