Marks & Spencer, Al Gore call for sustainability

14 Jun 2013


Retailer Marks & Spencer issued a rallying cry for sustainability at its Plan A supplier conference today. Former US vice president and environmental  activist, who was present at the conference spoke on a number of issues he believed the business community needed to address.

While Gore dwelt on why he believed people - and businesses in particular - needed to commit to more sustainable practices, M&S chief executive Marc Bolland argued that visions and values needed alignment.

According to Bolland, businesses were beginning to buy into the benefits of sustainability, though, current aspirational models driven by consumption - which he termed the "American Dream" would become increasingly problematic as the global middle class expanded in emerging markets.

Green behaviour was currently perceived as "dull", and not "sexy" or "desirable" enough, which needed to change before more sustainable business modes gained traction, Gore said as he estimated that within the next 12 years, the global middle-class would double from 2 billion to 4 billion people.

He added, those consumption desires needed to be addressed.

Gore talked much about vision, about what could be seen and what could be measured. He said, "We assume that what we see is all that matters." He added the old way of looking at things was to only consider those that had a price tag.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer beat its goal for 25-per cent of its M&S Food (by turnover) to be produced in factories sending zero waste to landfill by 2015.

According to the company, by the end of last year, 84 suppliers accounting for 32 per cent of M&S Food turnover - had sent no waste to landfill in line with Plan A sustainability report.

M&S said its UK and Republic of Ireland stores, offices and warehouses sent no waste to landfill in 2013, adding, it achieved a 28 per cent reduction in the volumes of waste it produced overall and a 32 per cent reduction in food waste since 2008/09.

Marks & Spencer beat its goal of cutting construction waste by 50 per cent, per £100,000 project, by 2015, and said it worked with its suppliers and BRE building consultancy to review and improve construction waste minimisation practices.

M&S said, since 2007, it had cut back its non-glass packaging across food, clothing and homeware by an average of 26 per cent, had also cut the weight of glass used in food packaging, saving 1,100 tons a year. Also its clothing packaging has fallen by 46 per cent.

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