The Plan A Accelerator Fund will see M&S work with existing and new suppliers to take “rapid action” towards its net zero goal.

One of the first projects funded by the net zero scheme will trial a fibre-to-fibre recycling scheme in Oxfam stores with M&S claiming the trial is the “first of its kind”.

Consumers will be invited to donate unwearable clothing to the charity, alongside their wearable clothing donations. The unwearable items will be cleaned and used to make new materials.

This trial is part of the ACT Textile Waste Project, led by the UK Fashion and Textile Association, which aims to develop a UK-based auto-sorting and processing facility that will replace the manual sorting of used clothing.

M&S says its scheme will prevent clothing going to landfill and supports a circular fashion economy.

Another trial will see M&S use AI to predict the optimal heating, ventilation and air conditioning levels in six of its stores to reduce energy consumption.

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M&S estimates the scheme could save up to 2,000 tonnes of carbon and around £3m a year if rolled out to all stores.

Other projects include exploring green hydrogen through electrolysis technology using wind/solar power to replace fossil fuels; a shoe recycling pilot scheme; and agricultural technology using low carbon fertilisers, biological controls and autonomous farm vehicles and drones to grow crops.

The retailer plans to announce further projects that will be funded by the £1m investment in the coming months.

M&S’ CEO Stuart Machin commented: “I talk a lot about the ‘magic of M&S’ – and a key part of this is our commitment to innovation. It’s in our DNA and, along with our unique model of own brand, long term supplier partnerships, it’s how we deliver the quality and trust our customers expect from us.

“By turning our obsession with innovation towards climate change and tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of our suppliers we can turbo charge our drive to be a net zero business across all our operations and entire supply chain by 2040. I’m excited by the big difference these small changes could make to some of the toughest climate challenges we face.” 

In 2023 M&S invested in Nobody’s Child, the eco-conscious fashion brand it owns a 27% stake in to support its continued growth.

In January 2024 M&S reported a 4.8% increase in sales of its clothing and home ranges to £1.24bn in Q3 thanks to improved customer perceptions of style, quality and value as well as its re-energised omnichannel service.