M&S hits 75% threshold for sustainable cotton, targets 100% next year

M&S hailed its achievement on the sustainability front on Friday with a new Plan A report showing that over three-quarters of M&S cotton now comes from more sustainable sources.

M&S is boosting its use of cotton from sustainable sources

In fact, the figure is 77%, with the company saying that it’s “now grown using more sustainable methods – meaning M&S cotton is helping farmers use fewer pesticides, less water and make more profit.”

This makes the retail giant one of the biggest users of more sustainably sourced cotton and puts it on track to meet its commitment to hit 100% as early as next year.

The figures came as the company published its 2018 Plan A Report detailing its annual progress against 100 commitments “to improve people, planet and health.”

The company has been one of the most vocal advocates of sustainability with its Plan A strategy having been among the earliest corporate strategies on this front from the retail sector.

Other highlights in the new edition include £25.7 million donated or raised for community programmes, and 83% of M&S products now having an “eco or ethical quality above the market norm.” It also said that 30 million items of clothing have been reused or recycled with Oxfam and 2.3 million meals have been donated to food surplus charities with social network Neighbourly.

The focus on cotton as part of Plan A is particularly important because it's the most widely used natural fibre globally. Some 23 million tonnes are produced every year and 250 million people around the world rely on it for income. 

M&S itself uses around 50,000 tonnes of cotton a year. Unless it is grown sustainably, growers can use too much water in areas often short of water. They can also misuse pesticides and often struggle to make enough money.

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