Marks & Spencer celebrates its 125th anniversary this year by being named the recipient of the Greener Package Retail Leadership Award. With a decades-long reputation for its awareness of and sensitivity to the environmental impact of packaging, M&S identifies these as its key accomplishments:
• A 12% reduction in packaging since beginning its environmental program
• 72% of all PET used contains food-safe post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled content
• 38% of its board is Forest Stewardship Council-certified, and that number is rising
• All HDPE milk bottles contain PCW recycled content
• The firm is a driving force behind a U.K. move to collect multilayer brick packs for recycling
Packaging sustainability is part of an encompassing agenda for the environment that debuted as “Plan A” two years ago. M&S uses an independent auditing company to ensure that all its sustainability claims are accurate and true.
M&S recognizes compostable materials as an emerging market, and it supports their development by working with the materials in terms of technical applications while ensuring that food safety remains priority number one. It also seeks to drive clarity of messaging where these materials are concerned. Terms such as biodegradation, degradable, compostable, industrially compostable, home compostable, and oxy-degradable confuse the customer and can affect how the materials are disposed of. So M&S has set a clear direction by striving for home-compostable materials only, a message clearly understood by consumers.
M&S also takes a leading position by working with government, local government, nongovernment organizations, and industry to establish strategic direction for recycling in the U.K. The firm belongs to a number of expert organizations, including INCPEN, WRAP, and the Compost Association, all of which help shape strategic thinking. And because M&S management believes its learnings should be shared, the firm recently joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition in the U.S. to exchange experiences for the benefit of all.
While one of the Greener Package Awards judges admired how clearly M&S’s labeling system shows the consumer what the end-of-life options are for all parts of the package, another judge sums up M&S’s approach to sustainable packaging this way: “Their drive in sustainable practices is legendary.”
See other Greener Package Award winners