Learn from... Marks & Spencer

In 2007, global retailer Marks & Spencer launched its sustainability programme, Plan A, aimed at working with customers and suppliers to combat climate change, reduce waste, use sustainable raw materials and trade ethically, while helping customers to lead healthier lifestyles.

At its inception, the retailer expected the cost of meeting its 100 pledges (this has since grown to 180 pledges) to be around £200m.

However, its work with suppliers to measure community health and prosperity in its supply chains, including employee rights and responsibilities, health care, numeracy and literacy, has led to supply chain efficiencies. In 2011/12, this helped Plan A contribute £105m net benefit back into the business, according to the retailer’s annual figures.

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