UK Lesson for NZ



March 4…….2010

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says a British initiative sends a strong signal to our businesses about behaving sustainably if they high-value overseas markets in future.

It says Marks and Spencer’s ‘Big Green Plan’ sends a message to Kiwi businesses.

In a bold new bid, Marks and Spencer aim to become the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015.

The UK retailer is launching 80 major new commitments under a new eco and ethical plan. Some of the key points:

Key Points of UK Plan

·       Converting 2.7 billion food, clothing and home items to meet the plan’s sustainability standards

·       Encouraging 21 million customers to live more sustainable lifestyles

·       Introduce  livable wages at clothing suppliers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India

·       Training and education programmes, including basic healthcare and workers’ rights, for 500,000 workers in suppliers’ factories

·       Encouraging 10,000 food-supplying farmers to adopt a sustainable foods programme

·       Sourcing all packaging from a single model forest programme

·       Increasing the number of garments that customers recycle every year from two million to 20 million

·       Launching an incubator fund to support the development of innovative new products and services worth about NZ $150m

·       Offering free home insulation, and energy monitors to employees – and giving them one paid day-off a year to work in their local communities.

Marks and Spencer (M&S) says environmental and social issues remain important to UK consumers.

An M&S survey found that 72% of people surveyed are worried about environmental issues – and 73% say the recession has not changed their level of concern.

Sustainability Best for Profits

The firm says the move to sustainable behaviour is also better for M&S profits: Since launching its eco initiatives in 2007, the firm has reduced its environmental impact, developed new sustainable products and services, and helped to improve the lives of people in its local communities.

It’s also saved about NZ$150 million by being more efficient.

The NZ Business Council Chief Executive, Peter Neilson, says several of his organization’s member companies have undertaken major sustainability projects.

He says these have added tens of millions to their bottom lines, while also delivering environmental and social gains.

The M&S initiative shows sustainable behaviour can deliver major savings and market share, even during a recession, he says.

Businesses Acting While Govts Dither

Mr Neilson adds: “It’s encouraging that business is getting on with leading a response to climate, resource and social issues — even while governments worldwide and at Copenhagen have failed to reach a comprehensive new agreement on climate change.

He adds:”Our latest research shows 65% of New Zealanders say a company’s environmental practices have a big influence on whether or not they buy its products.

“It’s a foolhardy firm now which doesn’t do its best for the environment.

He says:“Some 28% of businesses have also sacked a supplier in the past year because of environmental, social or ethical concerns. This is a growing trend worldwide.”

The Council adds that consumers now expect businesses to help address their sustainability concerns.