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October 9, 2008

UK: M&S puts biofuel plans on hold

UK retail chain Marks and Spencer has put attempts to use more biofuels, originally part of its GBP200m (US$346.9m) Plan A eco-scheme, on the back burner.

UK retail chain Marks and Spencer has put attempts to use more biofuels, originally part of its GBP200m (US$346.9m) Plan A eco-scheme, on the back burner.

The controversial energy source has been ditched by M&S after two trials, the retailer’s sustainable raw materials specialist Mark Summer confirmed in a Plan A update in London yesterday (8 October).

He said: “It is a good example of just how fluid Plan A has to be.”

Biofuels were one of the 100 points raised by M&S’ eco plan, announced in January 2007.

As an alternative to fossil fuels, biofuels are sourced from recently-grown crops. However, critics say that government subsidies to farmers who grow plants for biofuel are diverting crops away from food.

Summer was speaking at the annual conference of RITE Group, a portal for sustainability in the textiles supply chain.

He went onto say that biofuels was the first point to be dropped by M&S, while 17 have already been achieved and only eight have not yet started.

Notably, the company has managed to reduce its use of carrier bags by 11%. M&S has also reduced energy-related emissions from stores and offices by around 55,000 tonnes since the start of the plan and switched 25% of its electricity to renewable sources.

M&S representatives were unavailable to comment any further on its biofuels policy.

However, information on the company’s website confirmed: “Since originally announcing our Plan A commitment to use more bio-diesel, we have discussed some of the environmental issues associated with its production with our stakeholders.

“We’ve decided to stop using bio-diesel until sustainable sources of supply are available.”

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