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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 10:10 GMT
M&S unveils carbon-neutral target
M&S store in Edinburgh
M&S's chief executive has finally hailed a recovery at the firm
High Street chain Marks & Spencer has announced a 200m, five-year plan to make the company carbon neutral.

Under its "eco-plan", the company says it will cut energy consumption, stop using landfill sites and stock more products made from recycled materials.

Chief executive Stuart Rose, who has overseen a recovery in M&S's fortunes, said the project would "change beyond recognition" the way it operated.

He insisted extra costs under the plan would not be passed on to customers.

Mr Rose, who took over as chief executive three years ago, told the BBC that it was "a massive plan".

"I don't say it's not without risk," he said.

"What we're saying, effectively, is look, we believe responsible business can be profitable business."

Local food

Businesses or homes which offset the carbon emissions they produce, by planting trees for example, are described as being carbon neutral.

M&S said the carbon savings it aimed to achieve under its plan would be like taking 100,000 cars off the road each year.

This plan raises the bar for everyone else - not just retailers but businesses in every sector
Jonathon Porritt, Adviser to M&S

As well as cutting energy and using more renewable materials, M&S will aim to source its food from the UK and the Republic of Ireland as a "priority" in an attempt to reduce air freight.

Labels will identify food that has been flown into the UK.

"We don't have all the answers but we are determined to work with our suppliers, partners and government to make this happen," said Mr Rose.

"Doing anything less is not an option."

He added: "We will become carbon neutral, only using offsetting as a last resort. We will ensure that none of our clothing products or packaging needs to be thrown away."

M&S was advised on its new environmental policy by former Friends of the Earth director Jonathon Porritt.

"This plan raises the bar for everyone else - not just retailers but businesses in every sector," said Mr Porritt.

Powered by waste

Under its plan, much of the chain's polyester clothing will be made from recycled plastic bottles, instead of oil, and millions of garments will be made from fair trade cotton, he said.

M&S will also trial the use of food waste to power its 500-plus stores across the UK.

News of the plan comes days after Mr Rose finally acknowledged a "recovery" at the iconic chain after a sales surge in the lead up to Christmas.

The retailer said like-for-like sales - which ignore sales at new stores - in the October to December period were up 5.6% on the similar period a year ago.

The company's share price has risen steadily over the past 15 months as its fortunes have improved, but until last week Mr Rose had refused to use what he calls "the R-word".

Marks and Spencer Share Price graph




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
How M&S hopes to become carbon neutral



SEE ALSO
M&S chief hails sales 'recovery'
09 Jan 07 |  Business
Sales lift continues M&S revival
11 Jul 06 |  Business
M&S unveils sharp rise in profits
23 May 06 |  Business

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