Key Points:

– New partnership with UK charity to protect one million Amazon rainforest trees

– Project Hope – new health campaign targets 14,000 garment workers in Cambodia

– 10,000 workers in Indian supply chain trained in financial literacy

– Make Your Mark delivers 95 per cent in to work rate

– 392,000 unwanted clothing items shwopped in One Day Wardrobe Clearout

Marks & Spencer (M&S) today gives an update on Plan A, its 180 commitment eco and ethical programme.

Mike Barry, Director of Plan A at M&S, says:

"It's been another six months of good progress including some great achievements, addressing tough challenges and breakthrough projects. We're tackling some of the biggest issues in sustainable business such as youth unemployment, clothes going to landfill and engaging consumers in more sustainable living and are very proud of what we've delivered. It's making M&S a better business.

"But we are also very conscious that we're only part way through our journey of making M&S a sustainable, international multi-channel retail business. That's why we're currently working closely with our external Sustainable Retail Advisory Board to develop a series of new social and environmental goals to further strengthen Plan A and, in turn, our business."

New Partnership With UK Charity To Protect One Million Amazon Rainforest Trees

M&S has signed a new partnership with UK-based rainforest protection charity Cool Earth to protect 5,000 acres of rainforest in Peru and keep one million trees standing. It will be achieved by empowering indigenous communities (through funding and training) to adopt financially and environmentally sustainable land-use policies.

Based in Cornwall, Cool Earth, is supported and endorsed by a range of environmental experts, including Sir David Attenborough and Sir Nicholas Stern (author of The Stern Report). Cool Earth's aim is to protect 10 million acres of rainforest by 2016.

The three year partnership with M&S will support their Ashaninka project (300 miles east of Lima) in Peru. It sits within the Amazon biome and to the west of Mato Grosso, where much forest has already been lost to soya and cattle agriculture.

The M&S investment will tip the balance away from clearing forest for soya, ranching and plantations by giving indigenous communities control over their forest and boosting the incomes they make from sustainable harvesting of forest products such as coffee, cocoa, Brazil nuts and ashiotti (seed used in beauty products). On top of that it will keep over 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of forest intact, prevent 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, and keep well over a million trees standing.

Project Hope – New Health Campaign Supports 14,000 Garment Workers In Cambodia

M&S is trialling a new health campaign in Cambodia working with US NGO Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) to educate 14,000 garment workers to better deal with common health and well being issues.

Launched in February and running until March next year, the programme provides training to workers and management on common problems in the Cambodian garment industry such as family planning and Anaemia. Factories that take part also have their medical room upgraded and are encouraged to foster better links with external clinics.

The ambition is to create a model that can be rolled out to M&S clothing suppliers across the world to deal with the specific health needs in different countries.

Laura Hawkesford, Ethical Trading Manager at Marks & Spencer said: "The project is helping us develop policies, procedures and materials that will enable us to roll out a health education campaign across all our sourcing territories. We're already making a difference in Cambodia and it makes good sense to be a fair partner by ensuring good working conditions for everyone in our supply chains. This includes making sure our suppliers can offer the best possible advice and facilities on health which in turn boosts attendance, worker retention, happiness and productivity."

10,000 Workers In Indian Supply Chain Trained In Financial Literacy

M&S' Plan A financial literacy training programme hit a significant milestone last month with the 10,000th supply chain worker taking part.

The programme is run in partnership with Geosansar, a social enterprise that provides financial services to people with no access to mainstream financial institutions. It launched in 2011 and focuses on developing financial literacy amongst the 'unbanked' communities of India.

60 per cent of Indians do not have access to a bank account leading to supply chain workers not having safe and secure access to savings and no knowledge of risk mitigating products, such as insurance.

Geosansar educates workers in financial literacy and offers access to low cost financial services for those that take part. The number of supply chain workers receiving the training is set to double with a target to train further 10,000 M&S supply chain workers in India over the next 12-18 months.

Marks & Spencer SignMake Your Mark Delivers 95 Per Cent In To Work Rate

Over 1,000 unemployed 16-24 year olds took part in M&S' new Plan A employability scheme Make Your Mark in the first half of the year. More than 900 successfully completed each element of the four week mentoring programme with 95 per cent going on to secure jobs at M&S stores up and down the country.

The scheme helps young unemployed people get into meaningful, sustainable work and is run in partnership with the Prince's Trust. It has been recognised by the Prime Minister's office and formed part of the government's announcement last month of 100,000 new youth training opportunities to help the UK succeed in the global race.

392,000 Unwanted Clothing Items Shwopped In One Day Wardrobe Clearout

M&S customers and employees shwopped an amazing 392,000 used and unwanted pieces of clothing during the One Day Wardrobe Clearout event on the 3rd October.

The clothes are worth an estimated £450,000 to Oxfam, money that will be used to support its vital work across the world. It takes the cumulative 'Shwopping' ( total to over six million garments collected.

'Top of the Shwops' was the Gyle Shopping Centre store in Edinburgh. Other top performing stores included Longwell Green in Bristol, Cragleith (Edinburgh), Formby and Holloway Road in London.

Shwopping is M&S' revolutionary clothes recycling campaign which encourages customers to donate used and unwanted items of clothing at M&S stores every time they shop. Every Spring and Autumn M&S' holds a One Day Wardrobe Clearout event which incentivises customers to Shwop by offering a money off voucher (£5 off a £35 spend on clothing and home products).

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