Marks & Spencer has launched the high street’s first ever carbon neutral bra today, as part of its new Autograph Leaves lingerie collection.
The footprint of the Autograph Leaves collection, which includes four styles of bra, three knickers and a set of suspenders, has been calculated and independently certified by The Carbon Trust Footprinting Certification Company.
The calculation takes into account each item’s complete life cycle – from component manufacture to transportation and even the energy customers use washing and drying their underwear.
The collection was manufactured at the M&S eco-model factory in Thurulie, Sri Lanka. The innovative renewable energy features and reduced waste initiatives implemented at the site seek to reduce the carbon intensity of the energy used by an estimated 33 percent, compared to typical factory production.
M&S head of lingerie technology Paschal Little said: “Nature is the inspiration behind Autograph Leaves, so it’s fitting that this range benefits the environment too. As the UK’s lingerie market leader, we think it’s right that we should lead the way in exploring new, more sustainable manufacturing options. As a result of this project, we know raw material production, such as lace manufacture, is a major contributing factor to the bra’s footprint, so we’re now working with our suppliers to find better alternatives for the future.”
The factory’s local community is also benefiting from the initiative. M&S has purchased offsets through a carbon credit project run by Conservation Carbon Company. Working in partnership with nine local farmers, M&S is planting over 6000 trees in the desolate land between the Kanneliya and Polgahakanda forest reserves.
Sri Lanka’s forests are home to approximately 90 percent of the country’s endemic species, but are disappearing at a rate of 1.6 percent per year. To counter this, 75 percent of the trees planted are native species, creating more natural habitats and enabling wildlife to move more easily between the two forests.
The project will also help tackle rural poverty in the region by improving the livelihood of the farmers involved. The other 25 percent of trees will be income generating varieties, such as mango and lime trees, that offer additional nutritional and financial security to the farmers and their families.
Under its extended Plan A commitments, M&S has pledged that each of its 2.7 billion individual products will have a Plan A attribute by 2020, with a target of 50 percent by 2015.
M&S head of sustainable business Mike Barry said: “The complexity of a bra’s supply chain makes it the ideal product to learn about the practicalities of carbon footprinting, as it contains 21 component parts from 12 different suppliers. We’re already applying the lessons we’ve learned to other product areas and have taken an important step towards our goal of giving every single M&S product a Plan A attribute.”
For more information, visit: M&S Lingerie
The Autograph Leaves collection is available online from April 13 and will be in stores from this weekend.