Courtaulds West Mill hosiery plant is the first UK site to gain M&S eco-factory status

Courtaulds' West Mill hosiery plant is the first UK site to gain M&S eco-factory status

Marks and Spencer opened its first eco-factories in Sri Lanka in 2008 in partnership with two of the country's biggest garment producers, Brandix and MAS Holdings. The most recent recipient of the accolade was Courtaulds, whose hosiery plant in Derbyshire became the first UK facility to attain the status less than a fortnight ago.

As part of its Plan A commitments, the retailer has promised to roll out the findings from its eco-model factories to its top 100 suppliers by 2015. And with Courtaulds revealing that steps it took through the programme halved its electricity bills, it is clear that sustainability can pay off, not just ecologically but financially too.

But what exactly does M&S look at as part of its audit, and what does it take for factories to reach eco factory status with M&S? 14 steps are outlined below.

Energy audit
Factories need a third-party auditor or qualified company engineer to carry out a full environmental audit and make the report available. The factory needs to sub-metre all key areas where energy assessment is required and identify the potential for energy reduction and control.

Energy efficiency and reduction plan
An energy reduction plan needs to be made based on the energy audit, and also made available to M&S. Energy savings need to be estimated in kWh and costs at current rates. They then need to record a reduction against that baseline.

Energy monitoring meters
Factories need permanently installed energy sub-meters for their highest energy use functions, including lighting, temperature control and other relevant electrical equipment. Monitoring reports need to be collected on a 24/7 basis, with weekly reports inspected or acted upon by the eco-factory delivery manager.

Energy efficient motors on key manufacturing and support equipment
Factories must install direct drive servo motors on all key motors, fans and compressors across the factory, or in all services to support manufacturing.

'Green' renewable energy sourcing
Companies need to engage in renewable energy sourcing. This may be offsite using a hydro power source, wind source or steam from another nearby factory, for example, or use on-site power generation source such as solar PV panels.

Solar thermal system - heating of water for factory use
Solar thermal heating of water using an on-site solar heating generator - used for things like washing, or the factory canteen.

Insulation - buildings and pipes
The building must be extensively insulated both internally and externally to maintain a stable temperature. All opportunities and the best available technology and materials must be installed so that no heat escapes from the point of heating to point of use.

Compressed air leaks - management
Compressed air usage and leakage rates need to be reviewed, with a regular programme in the factory standard operating procedures to assess and repair leakages.

Lighting installations and energy reduction
Natural daylight should be maximised, through use of roof portals, improved high transparency and/or UV resistant glass, 'solar tubes', or other 'latest technology' solutions. Overhead lighting layout is reviewed and re-distributed to maximise its efficiency and low-energy lighting tubes installed, preferably the "T5" type. Sensors need to be fitted around the site to control lighting use.
Temperature control (heating and/or cooling)
Air conditioning: Where this is required, a low energy consumption system, using the best available latest technology, is used. The power consumption is isolated through sub-metering, and the eco-factory delivery manager will monitor its use. There will also be a programme to minimise and reduce energy usage.
Heating systems: Where this is requried, a low energy consumption system, using the best available latest technology, is used. The power consumption is again isolated through sub-metering, and the eco-factory delivery manager monitors its use, and has a programme to minimise and reduce energy usage.

Water usage and reduction
This is under the control of the eco-factory delivery manager, with mains water volumes into the factory monitored. There is active management to minimise use and extensive installations to reduce water usage on the site, for example push taps, aerated taps, or water reduction WC units. Where chemicals are used, these are controlled and handled within safety and environmental regulations.

Waste and waste reduction
Under the control of the eco-factory delivery manager, the factory should maximise opportunities to source recyclable incoming raw materials and packaging. A documented waste reduction, control and recycling action plan needs to be in place - with targets against the base line. Staff should also be encouraged to participate in reducing production/food waste and to recycle materials where possible.

Eco factory policy and management
The factory should have a written and communicated environmental sustainability plan signed off by the CEO or equivalent level senior manager. An eco-factory delivery manager is assigned to the site and is responsible for implementing and reporting on the progress of the environmental plan and delivery to senior management. The company needs to take a leadership role in driving environmental projects which benefit employees and local communities.
Third-party environmental certification
Including LEED, ISO 14001 or the WWF Low Carbon Mfg Programme (China only).