The UK throws away around 300 million tonnes of waste every year – most of it from construction and industry, with 35 million tonnes from households. Packaging accounts for around ten million tonnes, of which seven million tonnes are recycled.
If waste isn’t reused or recycled as part of a ‘circular economy’ it can end up in landfill where the valuable resources it contains are lost forever.
Maintaining our zero waste to landfill
M&S operated UK and Republic of Ireland stores, offices and warehouses sent no waste to landfill, which is no easy feat. We’ve also achieved a 28% reduction in the volumes of waste we produce overall and a 32% reduction in our food waste since 2008/09.
Focusing on food waste
Throughout the year, we’ve worked with our suppliers and other retailers to reduce packaging and food waste as part of the Courtauld Commitment. We’ve also helped to launch the Fresher for Longer initiative, which provides customers with practical advice about how to store and use food properly to avoid unnecessary waste. The Plan A section of our website now includes an interactive food wheel that uses simple graphics to explain the best way to store everything from mature Cheddar to new potatoes.
Cutting construction waste
In the year that saw us open our biggest greenest store at Cheshire Oaks, we’ve already beaten our 2015 target to reduce construction waste by 50% for every £100,000 project we undertake – and sent no construction waste to landfill. In part, this is because of the type of projects we’re currently undertaking, so we plan to set even more testing targets in the near future.
How going shwopping chops down waste
By encouraging our customers to go shwopping at M&S we’ve not only raised £2.3m for Oxfam this year, but also avoided waste by putting the 3.8 million shwopped items of clothing back into use or recycling. We also extended the scheme by launching Shwop at Work to make it easier for people to donate.