Leading Sustainable Organizations
Five years ago, the UK retailer Marks and Spencer announced what it called Plan A, a commitment to tangible steps to make the company more sustainable. T-shirts for associates featured the slogan, “There is no Plan B.”
As it says at the Plan A website today, “We launched Plan A in January 2007, setting out 100 commitments to achieve in 5 years. We’ve now extended Plan A to 180 commitments to achieve by 2015, with the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.”
The company’s new 56-page “How We Do Business Report 2012” [PDF] details what the company has achieved in the past five years.
Marks and Spencer has also prepared a separate report called “The key lessons from the Plan A business case.” [PDF]
Of its goals, the company has achieved 138 of its 180 commitments, with 30 ‘on plan’, 6 ‘behind plan’ and 6 ‘not achieved,’ according to the report. Among the report highlights:
Marks and Spencer has a convincing business case for sustainability. The company, says Marc Bolland, CEO, can “demonstrate a strong business case for sustainability, with £185m in net benefits from Plan A made available to be reinvested back into our business over the last five years.” Operational savings include a 28% improvement in energy efficiency per sq ft.
Achievements include becoming carbon neutral, sending no waste to landfill and sourcing 100% of the wild fish it sells “from the most sustainable sources available.”
Customers have embraced a chance to give back. The company launched a so-called ‘shwopping’ initiative (the word combines “shop” with “swap”), encouraging customers to bring in used clothes when they buy new ones, and one-day “Wardrobe Clear-Out” events, with clothes donated to Oxfam second-hand clothing stores. Total number of garments donated: 11 million. Money raised for charity: £20 million.
Sustainability is integrated into financial reporting and review. M&S produced its sustainability report with its Internal Audit team and Ernst & Young. The Board and Audit Committee reviewed Plan A progress every six months.