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Marks and Spencer reports refrigeration emissions down 73 per cent in eight years

First report on Plan A 2020 progress shows ‘strong progress’ on carbon reduction plans - although doors on fridges trials delayed

Retailer Marks and Spencer has reported ‘strong progress’ on its Plan A 2020 environmental and sustainability commitments, but has conceded there is still long ‘to do list’ if it is to become a truly sustainable business.

The firm published its first progress report on the new set of commitments today, showing that many of its 2020 goals are on plan to be achieved.

Low carbon refrigeration, a key plank in its carbon targets, is reported as on track, having achieved a 73 per cent cut in carbon emissions per store sq ft.

Total emissions from refrigeration and airconditioning were 43,000 t CO2e, down by 67 per cent on the baseline. Allowing for increases in store footage, emissions were down 73 per cent at 2.5 t CO2e/1,000 sq ft. The retailer said it had achieved this by ‘improving maintenance and introducing less damaging R407a HFC gases in store systems.’

The company also reported that it is on plan on its commitment to deliver HFC-free stores by 2030 and CO2 in all new stores. The CO2 estate now amounts to 94 stores, with its first transcritical installations shortly to open. The scale of its task is demonstrated by the fact that HFCs still account for 79 per cent of the estate.

However it conceded that there it had not achieved its commitment to evaluating doors on refrigerators by the end of this year. The trials and evaluation will now be completed by next year, the retailer reported.

Marc Bolland, Chief Executive, said: “Plan A 2020 is a sustainable business plan that puts Plan A at the heart of our brand. It aims to engage our customers, employees and stakeholders. We’ve made strong progress in the past 12 months, including working with the Consumer Goods Forum and World Economic Forum. As part of this work we’ve actively supported global progress on deforestation, low carbon refrigeration, the circular economy and engaging the ‘millennial’ generation’s attitudes to sustainable consumption.”

Mike Barry, Director of Plan A, said: “Plan A 2020 is delivering a better M&S. It is equipping us for the future and helping us deliver exceptional products and services for our customers. The report shows that we have much to be proud of, but it also shows how long our ‘to do’ list is if we’re to become a truly sustainable business. In the next 12 months we’ll step up our efforts on circular economy activities, roll out a more localised Plan A and become a more transparent business.” 

The retailer has achieved and exceeded its 2015 energy efficiency target of 35 per cent improvement, achieving a 36 per cent to 36.8 kWh/sq ft. Store energy efficiency improved by 35 per cent; warehouse efficiency by 42 per cent; and offices by 23 per cent.

The retailer is proud of its carbon neutrality, but reported a small increase on last year’s carbon output. It said: “To the best of our knowledge, we’re still the only major retailer in the world with carbon neutral global operations. This year, our total gross CO2e emissions were 592,000 tonnes of CO2e. An increase of 4 per cent. This is mainly due to an increase in the carbon conversion factors used to calculate emissions from UK grid electricity, which have added around 35,000 tonnes to the total figure. It still represents a 19 per cent reduction on our 2006/07 calculated baseline. We’ve again achieved carbon neutrality through a combination of reductions, procuring renewable energy and purchasing and retiring high-quality carbon offsets.”

M&S has also scaled back its commitment to trial 20 refrigerated trailers on nitrogen-based cryogenics by 2017, due to the logistics involved in recharging. It will now evaluate the trial based on 14 trailers.

See full report right.

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