Sustainability at M&S
Find out about our approach for creating long-term sustainable business value
As a business that’s been around for 137 years, we know how important it is to look to the future. M&S has been built on a belief that caring about our impact on tomorrow’s world as well as today’s is not just good citizenship, it’s good business.
Our Approach Today
Creating a sustainable future is embedded into our mission to transform our business and create long-term, profitable growth. Our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) framework outlines our commitments in driving action on the biggest sustainability challenges facing businesses, our society and our planet today and in the future.
Plan A represents our Planet-based goals – with our main mission to become a net zero business across Scope 1, 2 and 3 by 2040. Find out more about our approach to becoming net zero.
Sourcing ethically and reporting transparently on our supply chain practices is core to how we do business and the promise we make to our customers. From the way we treat the people who make our products to how we farm with care to deliver the highest welfare standards is what makes M&S products better – and that won’t change. We know it’s our people who make M&S successful and we want to make sure our employees in the UK and overseas have a safe and healthy environment to work in, which prioritises Inclusion & Diversity, personal development and respect. And finally, we have always served our local communities, and during the peak of Covid-19 our colleagues stepped up once again to help those suffering the most. As we emerge from the pandemic, we’re reflecting on the changing needs of society, and will be resetting our community programme for 2022.
Underpinning our Environmental and Social commitments is our group commitment to ‘do the right thing’. Whilst delivering on actions, we’ll continue to make sure we always comply with our policies and standards.
Building on our achievements so far
Throughout our history, we’ve been a leader of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards across the industry and are proud to be known as a retailer that customers can trust and to sell products that are sourced and made with care. Sustainability is a part of our heritage and values, and we’ve kept it at the heart of who we are over the decades - from publishing our first Code of Conduct in 1991 to first launching Plan A in 2007. Over the years, we’ve set ambitious targets to ensure ESG and Plan A have been embedded into our business processes. We’ve worked across the industry and with government, councils, NGOs and our communities to tackle problems and implement solutions. We’ve made real progress in our determination to be a leader in sustainable business and have met key milestones along the way. Now we’re going again, using the achievements we’ve made so far as a platform for future success.
Here are highlights of some of the key milestones we’ve met to date:
- 100% free range eggs by 2002
- First major UK retailer to launch ‘wash at 30°C’ programme on our clothes care label in 2007
- 28,000 Marks & Start work placements since 2004
- First UK retailer to introduce carrier bag charging in 2008. Have since reduced usage by 90%.
- First major UK clothing retailer to launch a national clothing recycling partnership by 2008. To date 35 million items recycled.
- Zero waste to landfill (UK and ROI) by 2012
- Carbon neutral operations (UK and ROI) by 2012 and internationally by 2014
- 100% responsibly sourced sea fish by 2015
- 100% RSPO certified palm oil by 2015
- Over 30 million meals redistributed since the launch of our food redistribution scheme with Neighbourly in 2015
- 500,00 workers in supply chains trained by 2015
- 100% sustainable cotton across M&S Clothing by 2019
Sustainability is core to the M&S brand and our ESG framework brings together the individual business strategies into a shared programme to engage our customers and enable us to report on performance at Group level. The CEO, Steve Rowe, has ultimate accountability for sustainability in M&S. The Executive Committee, as M&S’s senior leadership team with responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the business, are accountable for the whole programme in addition to compliance with M&S policies and regulations to help drive change and a more sustainable future for M&S.
In December 2020, a new Board sub-committee on Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) was established, chaired by Non-Executive Director Tamara Ingram, to provide a focus and oversight of our ESG strategies across the business, and to make sure we keep it at the very heart of our customer proposition.
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business. Many ESG issues are too large or complex for us to tackle alone, so it is vital that we collaborate and work with others. M&S is involved in active partnerships globally and locally, including participation and leadership roles within the Consumer Goods Forum and Business in the Community. We are playing our part in industry-wide collaborations including the British Retail Consortium’s Climate Action Roadmap and WRAP’s Textiles 2030. We are represented on the European Brands Working Group on the Bangladesh Accord, have spearheaded the Modern Slavery Intelligence Network, and our CEO is the Co-sponsor of the Consumer Goods Forum Human Coalition – Working to End Forced Labour.