Marks and Spencer Group plc

Marks and Spencer Group plc

Marks & Spencer announces carrier bag charging success

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Source: Marks and Spencer Group plc

M&S has announced that it has achieved an 80% reduction in the total number of food carrier bags used since the UK-wide launch of carrier bag charging in early May. This means that M&S customers have used over 70 million less plastic bags in the last ten weeks alone. With all profits from the 5p charge going to charity, in the same period, over GBP 200,000 has been raised for M&S’ environmental charity partner, Groundwork. The money is being invested in creating or improving ‘Greener Living Spaces’ such as parks, play areas and gardens. From this funding, five projects are already underway in Nottingham , Edinburgh , Wigan , Scarborough and Hammersmith. An additional nine projects, funded by carrier bag charging trials in Northern Ireland and South West England, are also in progress or complete.

To celebrate the successful first ten weeks of charging, M&S will be giving all its customers a free Bag for Life with each food transaction this weekend, from Thursday 24 July to Sunday 27 July, in a bid to encourage even more customers to think twice about the number of single use carrier bags they use.

Sir Stuart Rose, M&S Chairman said: “It is fair to say that M&S’ carrier bag charging policy has provoked a lot of debate but these figures show that the overwhelming majority of our customers support charging and are already helping us to make a huge difference by bringing their own bags in with them when they shop with us. We hope to encourage more customers to take action with our free Bag for Life giveaway this weekend.”

Tony Hawkhead, Groundwork Chief Executive said: “ M&S is proving that retailers can work with their customers to encourage a change in behaviour, and our partnership with them means that this is having a direct impact on neighbourhoods across the UK. We are delighted with the 14 projects that are already underway and we will be announcing more new local projects soon.”

Progress is already being made on the ‘Greener Living Spaces’ projects being carried out by Groundwork in partnership with Marks & Spencer.

Plans for a new play area at the Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh are complete and work starts next month, while in Scarborough a brand new family space with striking views over North Bay is being developed at the Royal Albert Park. In Vauxhall Road , Wigan , where the community has campaigned for several years for funding, M&S and Groundwork are now working with the local youth group to draw up plans to turn a neglected area into a space for families.

An unused garden in Nottingham ’s Hyson Green, which had been attracting anti-social behaviour, has already been transformed using landscaping panels made by a local artist and planting will take place throughout August. Further south, designs to overhaul an uninspiring concrete roof area to an oasis of green at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith are confirmed, and preparation of the site has begun.

This has all been achieved since Marks & Spencer began charging 5p for its single use food carrier bags in all of its UK stores on the 6 th May. The move is a major step towards M&S’ Plan A commitments to aim to reduce carrier bag usage by a third and send no waste to landfill from its operations by 2012.

M&S also made two additional changes to help reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags even further. Customers can return any used carrier bags to any till point or customer service desk at M&S stores for recycling and M&S now uses a new standard food carrier bag made from 100% post consumer waste in its stores nation-wide. This move is reducing the amount of virgin plastic M&S uses by 3,400 tonnes per year.

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