8 October, 2021
Back in 2007, M&S paved the way in setting a target driven sustainability strategy- ‘Plan A’ (because “there is no Plan B when it comes to our planet”). As a result, they became the first major retailer to ban free plastic bags in 2008 and to achieve carbon neutral status in 2012.
Fourteen years on, M&S recognise the need to do more. Last week they announced a re-set Plan A, with a singular focus on driving the delivery of net zero across the entire value chain by 2040.
This means working with partners, suppliers, and customers to apply a carbon zero lens across the whole value chain. From mills to tills, and farms to forks. It includes colleagues as ‘Carbon Champions’, supporting regenerative agriculture, and sourcing sustainable fibres.
Clearly M&S have been listening to their customers, as according to the latest M&S Family Matters report, more than two thirds of respondents named climate change as a top concern (a 3% increase in just three months). More retailers need to recognise this is a growing customer priority and play a vital role in making sustainable choices easier.
We think this is a brilliant example of how businesses should be communicating what needs to be done and setting the urgent ambition- the plan would see M&S achieve full net zero status a decade ahead of the government’s UK-wide strategy.
And in the run up to COP26, M&S’s announcement highlights how we should all be looking at our own world’s in the context of net zero.
Whilst Plan A is a crucial step, there is much to be done, and it will require strong and transparent reporting and some painful investment choices. The bar has been set, and we look forward to seeing how M&S progress.
On your Marks, go.
By Alice Railton