M&S Plan A Eco Factories – Impact on Suppliers (Aug 2012)

Aug 2012

Leading UK retailer M&S has been around for over a century and is well known for its innovative position in management in general, including environmental management.  In 2007, it launched Plan A (“there is no Plan B”) which it states  “sets 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”.  

Given its position as a retailer, clearly a major environmental impact relates to its supply chain.  The company has a scheme of certifying factories producing the goods it buys as “Plan A Eco Factories” (four owned by Crystal Group recently gained membership of this group).   M&S states “Working in partnership with our supplier, MAS, the first of our four 'eco-factories' opened in May 2008. Designed to be carbon neutral, the lingerie manufacturing site, in Thuruliya in Central Sri Lanka, combines energy saving devices, renewable energy, waste reduction processes and a healthy working environment for the factory workers.   The factory is aiming to achieve the highest status in 'green building' certification by LEED, a widely accepted international scheme run by the US Green Building Council.  So, since May 2008, our supplier in Sri Lanka has manufactured lingerie exclusively for us in a factory that's aiming to be as green as the surrounding countryside. That's something to give us all a boost.” 

Clearly gaining Plan A Eco Factory Status has significant benefits in securing business with one of the world’s largest buyers of high value textile goods.  Gaining certification involves a range of environmental issues and certification to existing environmental standards can benefit the process – some examples are LEED, ISO 14001 or the WWF Low Carbon Mfg Programme.


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