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M&S turns to storage and more renewables for Plan A update

M&S already owns considerable solar assets, including a 6.1MW array atop its Castle Donington distribution centre (pictured). Image: M&S

M&S already owns considerable solar assets, including a 6.1MW array atop its Castle Donington distribution centre (pictured). Image: M&S

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has updated its Plan A sustainability strategy with pledges including delivering half of UK property peak-energy demand flexibly by 2025, using clean and renewable technologies, before reaching 100% renewable electricity by at most 2035.

The retailer originally launched Plan A to redefine its role in society as a sustainable business. After a decade which has seen M&S save over £750 million in costs through efficiencies such as using less energy, fewer transport miles and reducing packaging, Plan A 2025 sets out new more ambitious targets.

Led by the ambition of a science-based target to accelerate the shift to a low carbon business and cut 13.3 million tonnes of CO2 e from the wider value chain, M&S plans to see greenhouse gas emissions from worldwide operations reduced by 80% compared to 2006/07 by 2030, on route to a 90% reduction by 2035.

This will be reached through a combination of renewable energy uptake and continued efficiency measures throughout the intervening years.

By 2020, energy efficiency in M&S operated stores, offices and warehouses in the UK and Ireland will be improved by 50% compared to 2006/07, rising to 60% by 2025, with international stores & warehouses set to be improved by 30% compared to 2013/14.

As well as boosting energy demand flexibility by 2025, between 2017 and 2035 all of the electricity purchased for M&S operated stores, offices and warehouses worldwide will be classified as renewable.

This will be further aided by M&S Energy, which has already been established to offer community groups access to sites for renewable energy generation. Previous efforts have seen a crowdfunding scheme set up to pay for the installation of solar panels on nine UK stores.

The updated Plan A states that by 2025, M&S Energy will help at least 200 communities to reduce their carbon footprint through the installation of renewable energy generation or energy efficiency measures, including battery storage.

Having become what M&S claim to be the world’s first and only carbon neutral major retailer, the company will maintain this for its worldwide operation up to at least 2025. By 2022, it will also have developed a strategy to ensure that participants of its supply chain can benefit from its carbon credit purchases.

Mike Barry, director of Plan A at Marks & Spencer, said: “The first 10 years of Plan A have given us the confidence to embrace a sustainable future. Plan A 2025 is now our plan for a future in which a truly sustainable M&S can, in partnership with our customers and stakeholders, have a positive impact in all we do. It will force us to address questions for which we don’t have all the answers to yet and collaborate with others to drive true change across consumer goods industries.”

Other measures include ensuring that by 2025, every factory producing products for M&S will be systemically improving its environmental and ethical performance, while also setting out to be a zero waste business.

M&S will report on Plan A 2025 progress every year in June and the commitments will be assured by independent auditors and M&S’ own audit team.