20 March, 2019

Taking real action on the plastic problem

By 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish. It’s a scary thought that puts the scale of the issue in context. The days of carefree convenience are over. Now we’re setting our minds to create viable alternatives.

Take single-use plastics. We’ve now replaced the 2 million straws used in our stores each year to paper ones and 99% of the 52 million hot drinks we sell annually are served in reusable china.

It’s a similar story with carrier bags. We were one of the first retailers to charge for plastic bags. This initiative has seen customer use drop by 80% since 2008. That’s 4 billion bags! But this kind of everyday action is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a big issue and our thinking needs to be equal to it.

In every way possible, we’re designing plastic out of our products and will ensure that all our packaging is widely recyclable by 2022. This means we’re using less in packaging and ensuring what is used can be recycled or reused. We’ve saved 75 tonnes from our crisp and popcorn packaging alone, just by thinking smarter. Cashmere is a luxury. But we think our environment is more precious. So we’ve removed the protective covers from the half million we sell so we can all feel the benefit.

It’s by investing more and thinking harder that these savings have been possible. We’ve taken some big strides on our journey. But there’s much more to do and further to go. Watch this space.

Inside M&S