Tackling deforestation

Tackling deforestation

Forests are an incredibly valuable natural resource, but sourcing some raw materials can contribute to deforestation if not managed properly. That's why we've committed to sourcing all our palm oil, soy, cocoa, beef, leather and coffee only from the most sustainable sources by 2015.

As a major feature in our 180-point plan, we have committed to ensuring that all of the key raw materials used in our business, come from the most sustainable source possible, in order to protect the environment and the world’s natural resources.

Forests are an incredibly valuable natural resource for helping to regulate the climate, water cycles and prevent soil erosion, and they are also incredibly valuable to our business.

M&S uses a number of raw materials that originate from regions of the world where the impacts of unsustainable logging practices are significant. That’s why, in March 2010, we made a commitment that the six raw materials that could make the biggest contribution to climate change will only come from the most sustainable sources by 2015. This includes palm oil, soy, cocoa, beef, leather & coffee.

We are already making great progress on a number of these commodities.

Palm oil
We are active members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to ensure we are part of a global force striving for a responsible approach to palm oil production, which includes criteria to protect the natural environment and important species such as the Orangutan.

We’ve made progress towards our goal of using only certified sustainable palm oil by 2015. As of April 2012, 257 M&S food products were made using RSPO certified palm oil. We were the first retailer in the world to buy Green Palm certificates and we continue to do so, which we believe helps drive demand for sustainable raw materials in the marketplace, and as a result increases the supply.

Our work on palm oil ties in with our partnership with the WWF which was formed in 2007. In particular, our support of their conservation work in the Heart of Borneo region. The Malaysian, Indonesian and Brunei governments have committed to protect, manage and restore 222,000km2 of forests– a vital habitat for Orang-utans and other wonderful creatures of Borneo. During 2011, M&S was rated joint top in WWF’s International Buyers scorecard.

We are an active member of the Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS) and the Soy Moratorium, which commits us not to buy soy from the Amazon Biome, an area vulnerable to deforestation.

Most of the soy we use is in animal feeds and we’ve set up an independent Animal Feed Advisory Group to advise us.

We work closely with all of our suppliers to ensure that we only source from producers that promote the highest levels of animal welfare, respect the environment, and specifically do not contribute to deforestation. All of our fresh beef is sourced from the UK and Republic of Ireland. Beef used in M&S canned products is now also sourced from the UK, other than corned beef. Only corned beef is now sourced from Brazil and is from areas outside of the vulnerable Amazon Biome.

M&S is participating in the international Leather Working Group run by the BLC leather technology centre. We plan to include key requirements addressing deforestation in our new leather sourcing policy which we aim to launch in 2012.

All of the coffee that we sell is Fairtrade certified. We are working closely with our suppliers to ensure that they meet our commitment to ensure that no coffee originates from sources that contribute to deforestation.

We’ve engaged with a number of experts and our cocoa suppliers to best understand how we can promote the most environmentally responsible practices in cocoa production.

Working with the Rainforest Alliance our long term aim is that all of our wood is responsibly sourced, which means that it’s either recycled, FSC certified or otherwise protects forest and communities. In 2011, 84% of the wood-based materials we used were FSC certified, recycled or from sources that protect forest and communities.

We continue to work towards this challenging target.

Our support of other initiatives
We’re delighted to be rated as Forest Food Disclosure sector leader for the third year in a row. Forest Food Disclosure has become a valuable benchmarking tool to enable investors to make decisions that recognise the importance of ecosystems to business as well as the environment. Protecting high value forests and vulnerable communities is core to how we do business. Through collaborating with industry, government, academics and conservation organisations we will make a positive contribution to protecting high value forests and vulnerable communities.

M&S is also a supporter of the Prince’s Rainforest Trust which aims to protect rainforests by make them more valued standing, than cut down.

Our Plan A Commitments for 2010-2015

Click here to read our 2013 progress report

Greener living sofa

Explore out interactive feature to discover how our best selling sofa became our most sustainable.