M&S Shwopping crosses 2mn mark

November 20, 2012 - United Kingdom

Marks & Spencer (M&S) gives an update on Plan A, its 180 commitment eco and ethical programme that aims to make M&S the world's most sustainable major retailer by 2015.

Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A at M&S, says: "We continue to engage our customers in more sustainable living and passionately believe they are the central force for driving change. 35% of the products we sell - including some of our most popular food and clothing - now have an eco or ethical attribute. That's over a billion items sold a year.

“And we're driving change in consumer behaviour with campaigns like Shwopping, our clothes recycling initiative. Over two million items of clothing have been shwopped already, that's 865 tonnes of clothes that may otherwise have gone to landfill being re-sold, re-used or recycled by Oxfam."

35% of M&S products sold - over a billion items a year - now have a Plan A attribute

Over 35% of M&S products, over a billion items sold every year, now have a Plan A attribute - an eco or ethical quality above the market norm.

The products include some of the most desirable and popular M&S lines such as the M&S Woman Brazilian Knickers (made in an eco factory), British Rib-Eye Steak (significantly reduced packaging), M&S Woman Denim Jeggings (made with BCI cotton and dyed in an eco dyehouse) and Simply M&S milk (made healthier by a reduction in saturated fat and, as part of M&S' Milk Pledge, a fair price has been paid to the farmer).

The commitment is driving more sustainable consumption amongst M&S customers and embedding Plan A in every buying department. The target is to achieve 50 per cent of products by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2020.

Shwopping passes the two million mark

M&S customers have shwopped an amazing 2.2 million used and unwanted pieces of clothing in M&S and Oxfam stores since the scheme launched in April.

Shwopping is M&S' revolutionary clothes recycling initiative. Customers can donate any item of clothing, of any brand, to be re-used, resold or recycled by Oxfam. The latest figures mean that over 865 tonnes of clothing has been diverted from landfill and around £1.5 million has been raised to support Oxfam's vital work across the world.

BCI cotton now in 900 M&S products

Cotton sourced to Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) standards is now being used to make 900 M&S products, including some of M&S' best selling lingerie and jeans. From June next year, all pure cotton and cotton rich school uniforms will use BCI cotton.

In total M&S has purchased 4,000 tonnes of BCI cotton in the past six months and intends to grow this to over 15,000 tonnes in the next three years. BCI cotton is better for the environment as it is grown using less fertiliser, less water and fewer chemicals and earns more money for the farmer by reducing input costs and helping them manage crops better.

Mark Sumner, M&S' cotton expert, says: "If you shop at M&S, there's a good chance you will have come across a BCI cotton product. It's an important part of our sourcing mix now and we want it to grow and grow. We've committed to source 25 per cent of our cotton from more sustainable sources by 2015. We need BCI cotton alongside Fairtrade, Organic and recycled in our business so we can achieve this step change in environmentally conscious cotton sourcing."

World's most sustainable suit back by popular demand

The M&S Saville Row Inspired suit dubbed 'the world's most sustainable suit' has been such a hit that it will be returning to M&S stores and website for Spring / Summer next year.

The limited run of 500 suits sold out online and became the top selling suit at some of M&S' biggest stores. 2,250 have been ordered for June 2013.

The £349 suit is made from the most sustainable materials possible with everything from the buttons to the lining being carefully sourced to make it one of the greenest garments ever made. It took several years to develop by a team of M&S experts who have worked to ensure the suit is not only made from the most sustainable materials available. Designed by Richard James, is also impeccably well cut and of the highest quality.

150 million recycled clothing hangers change children's lives in Bangladesh

Year one of the three year M&S and UNICEF project in Bangladesh, launched to transform the lives of some of world's poorest children, has delivered some encouraging results. The project - funded by the money M&S saves by recycling 150 million clothes hangers a year - provides all the basics children need for a better future in two locations (Mirpur and Bahluka) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In its first year it provided:

  • 96 children with day care at five centres;
  • 450 children with pre-primary education at 15 early learning centres;
  • 170 adolescents with life skills-based education;
  • A comprehensive survey on health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene and education to establish a baseline to measure future progress.

Plans for year two include the provision of more education facilities, vaccinations for all infants before their first birthday, nutrition training for community workers and water, sanitation and hygiene for schools as well as the provision of fresh water and sanitation.

Over 50,000 people will benefit over three years and after evaluating the success of this intervention, UNICEF will roll out the programme across Bangladesh and into new countries, such as India.

New M&S distribution centre features Europe's largest solar wall

M&S' new distribution centre in Castle Donington, set to open next year, features Europe's largest solar wall - a sun-facing wall that absorbs the sun'senergy to heat fresh air which is used to help heat and ventilate the warehouse.

The SolarWall Transpired Solar Collector measures an enormous4,334m², the equivalent of more than 16 tennis courts,and is expected to provide energy savings of 1.1GWh (the equivalent energy use of two large M&S stores) and estimated CO2savings of over 250 tonnes per year.

Roger Platt, M&S Project Manager at Castle Donington, said: "There's a compelling case for renewable energy, both from a business and environmental point of view, when we build large, out-of-town sites. At our store in Cheshire Oaks a biomass boiler provides 70 per cent of the store's heating and here at Castle Donington the solar wall was the best possible option with such a large, south facing wall. The technology offers one of the fastest returns on investment of any solar technology currently available."