Marks & Spencer’s Plan A: There is No Plan B

In 2014 Marks & Spencer launched Plan A 2020 with over 100 social, environmental and ethical commitments towards the goal of being the world's most sustainable major retailer. This was a development of their original Plan A, first published in 2007.

The Marketplace

Marks & Spencer work closely with their suppliers to address human rights, environmental and ethical matters.

The M&S Global Community Plan addresses a wide range of environmental and social needs in the communities where they source products. This includes participation in a wide range of collaborative programmes such as Emerging Leaders which provided leadership skills training for more than 2,000 people in Kenya and South Africa.

All M&S tea and coffee has been certified by the Fairtrade Foundation since 2006. The palm oil used in M&S products is covered by Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil certification. 42% of the cotton used by M&S comes from the Better cotton initiative, Fairtrade or organic sources. And 99% of the wood used is by M&S is FSC certified or from others sources that protect forests and communities. M&S wild and farmed fish comes from the most sustainable sources available.

M&S food is made without Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG), hydrogenated fats and artificial colours and flavouring.

The Environment

In addition to ethically sourcing their products, M&S implement good environmental practices in their stores, offices and warehouses.

M&S is also the world’s only carbon neutral retailer, emitting zero net carbon emissions from all its stores, warehouses, offices and delivery fleets since 2012. Energy efficiency has been improved across its combined UK and Republic of Ireland operations by 39% against 2007. All M&S operated stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland also use ‘green’ tariff renewable electricity.

As of 2016 in the UK and ROI waste has been reduced by 31% (against 2008/09.) with 100% of waste recycled (nothing sent to landfill) and water consumption has been reduced by 31% (against 2006/07).

Marks & Spencer enables its customers to donate unwanted clothes for re-use and recycling through their Shwopping partnership with Oxfam.

The Workplace

M&S is an equal opportunities employer and promotes fairness and diversity. Around half of all store managers are female as are 40% of senior managers across the company. In 2016, M&S sponsored its employees to take part in Dublin Pride as part of its LBGT ‘Be Yourself’ initiative.

The Community

M&S help disadvantaged people into work through their Marks & Start and Make Your Mark employability programmes. Each participant is paired with an existing staff member who provides support and guidance. An accreditation process allows participants who successfully complete the programme to apply for an M&S vacancy in any store within 6 months without having to be assessed.

In September 2015, M&S’s Spark Something Good Programme came to Dublin. Spark Something Good was launched by M&S in July 2015 with the intention of helping 24 charities across 24 major cities over 24 months. Projects included transforming the playground of Scoil Eoin in Killbarrack, hosting a skills workshop with charity Dress for Success, renovating the performance hall of the Artane Boys' Band, as well as painting and decorating a new centre for Pieta House.

Business Working Responsibly Mark

Marks and Spencer Ireland was awarded the Business Working Responsibly Mark certification for responsible and sustainable business practices. The Mark, developed by Business in the Community Ireland and audited by the NSAI is based on ISO 26000.

The latest Plan A report can be downloaded from the M&S Corporate website

Marks & Spencer's Plan A in Numbers

Some key figures from the M&S Plan A report from 2016