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M&S and Westbridge develop Welsh 'eco-factory'
Aug '08
Following the successful launch of its Sri Lankan eco clothing factories, M&S has now developed its first UK eco factory with its supplier Westbridge Furniture.

The 150,000 square-foot Westbridge Furniture factory in Holywell, Wales, exclusively produces M&S furniture, including the M&S Fern Collection - the high street's first entirely green range of upholstered furniture.

Its conversion into an 'eco factory' was part-funded by M&S and took one year to complete. It has resulted in a reduction of CO2 emissions of 48%, an electrical energy saving of 56% and a reduction of water consumption of nearly 30% in its first year, as part of Westbridge Furniture's commitment to become carbon neutral. The Westbridge team has also halved its waste to landfill in just 3 months, as part of its commitment to send no waste to landfill by 2012. As part of its eco plan, Plan A, M&S has also pledged to make its operations carbon neutral by 2012 and send no waste to landfill.

Westbridge's CO2 reduction has been achieved through the introduction of energy efficient lighting and light tubes, which have reduced light energy consumption by 50%, whilst increasing brightness on the factory floor by 25%. Solar panels and hand dryers that run on 80% less energy have also contributed to the overall CO2 reduction. The factory now sources its electricity from green supplier, Scottish Hydro, which will amount to a further reduction of some 400 tonnes of CO2 in the year ahead.

With the support of its employees Westbridge has also introduced a range of other CO2 saving initiatives including a car sharing scheme, and a “switch off” campaign to remind workers to switch off equipment after-hours.

In terms of waste, the factory recycles timber, card, plastic and textiles, and has reported a 50% drop in wash basin water consumption, as a result of installing water saving taps, that can't be left on. A particularly innovative use of fabric off-cuts has provided all-weather horse training tracks in Darwin, Lancashire.

Commenting on the initiative, Richard Gillies Director of Plan A says: “This groundbreaking facility seemed like the logical next step on from our first eco-store in Bournemouth, where we were also faced with the challenges of an old building. Having tested a range of innovative features in Bournemouth, we have worked with the Westbridge team to apply this on a much larger scale to the factory, with the added challenge of adapting a high-energy consumption business into one that can become truly sustainable.”

Anthony Pydiah, Senior Quality Manager for Westbridge Furniture says: “In addition to being green on the factory floor, we also ensure every product we develop is made with a combination of eco materials; from castor oil based foam and Fairtrade cotton covers, to sustainable timber frames and fibre-back cushions from recycled plastic bottles.

“We hope our factory will inspire other UK suppliers to look past the initial barriers to going green, and to find innovative ways to minimise their environmental impact.”

All pieces have a wooden frame, using timber sourced from sustainably managed forests, and cream Fairtrade certified cotton loose covers. They are filled with a combination of Ecoflex foam (a castor oil based foam, containing 20% renewable resources, compared to 0% in traditional sofas) and fibre made from 80% post-consumer waste. This includes plastic drinks bottles with 122 used to make every 2-seater sofa.

Marks & Spencer

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