This is how Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at Marks and Spencer, describes its Plan A to BusinessGreen. Plan A was initiated in 2007 with the aim of making M&S the world's most sustainable major retailer by 2015.
Barry, however, explains that it's not a CSR initiative. Unlike many other organisations that pick and mix CSR initiatives when opportunities present themselves or when a defensive position is required, Plan A aims to deliver systematic change by embedding its targets throughout the business. Aside from generating £50m profit last year, Plan A has resulted in innovation through new product lines and has impacted M&S's supply chain. Despite initial hesitation, suppliers are now embracing sustainability as a competitive advantage in winning business.
M&S's success with Plan A demonstrates the strong business case for a sustainable approach to activities, whether that's cost savings from increasing resource efficiency and reducing waste or innovating products that open doors to new markets and customers.