Leading M&S Food's Carbon Sustainability for a Greener Future

In celebration of UK Green Careers Week, we spoke to Ed, our Food Sustainability Carbon Manager at M&S. Ed's career journey and passion for sustainability align with our mission to protect the planet. In this interview, he shares his inspiring story, his role in reducing our carbon footprint, and offers valuable advice for aspiring sustainability champions. 

Hi Ed, tell us more about your career so far. 

I did a Science degree at university and found that I was most interested in the parts about our environment and our climate. This led me into sustainability consulting when I left university, and I stayed in that field for 7 years. Over time, I specialised in helping companies like M&S to create sustainability strategies and link their strategies to data so they could make the best choices on where to focus their efforts to make the most impact. Eventually, I wanted to get closer to the action and be a part of delivering a strategy, which led me to join M&S in 2022. 

Tell us more about your role at M&S. 

M&S has a target to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, across our value chain. My role is all about helping to meet this target for M&S Food products. 

I am part of the Food Plan A (Sustainability) team and have responsibility for delivering M&S Food’s Net Zero targets. That means I need to understand how every one of our amazing food products contributes to M&S’ carbon footprint and what we can do to reduce their impact. I also need to support my colleagues across M&S Food to think about what they can do to take carbon out of their products – we all need to do our bit to help with this challenge! 

What’s the best bit about your job? 

The aspect of my job that I find most rewarding is speaking to people in all parts of the food system and hearing how motivated people are to make a positive difference in their work. Much of the time, we have lots of answers to our sustainability challenges and the enthusiasm needed to deliver the solutions at M&S – the challenge is identifying what will make the most impact and the order in which we take ideas from theory into reality.   

What originally inspired you to pursue a career in sustainability? 

As a child, I was always amazed by the natural world and curious to learn all about animals and plants. When you’re younger, it’s hard not to be inspired by stories of dinosaurs, the scale of a blue whale, or the colours of tropical fish. Growing up, I learned about how life on our planet is threatened by climate change, and I wanted my work to be about helping to prevent global heating. 

What are some of the key sustainability initiatives or projects you've been involved in at M&S? 

I have worked with our agriculture team and our suppliers to develop science-led, decarbonisation roadmaps for our main animal species. These roadmaps identify and cost the carbon reduction activities needed to reduce the carbon footprint of our animal products in line with our Net Zero commitments. This is already translating into projects that are delivering real carbon savings. 

What personal values or beliefs drive your commitment to sustainability? 

My personal commitment to sustainability is really driven by the evidence. The science shows us that society’s current models of consumption and production can’t continue without having a terrible impact on people and our planet. M&S has a rich history and heritage, all the way back to 1884, and we will need to continue the tradition of innovation to sustain M&S for another 140 years! 

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in sustainability? 

I would encourage everyone to think about what they can start doing today: learning more about sustainability, taking small actions day-to-day and volunteering to get involved. A challenge this big needs everyone to do their bit, and everyone has a role to play. You can have a massive impact by speaking to the people around you about sustainability topics and asking questions! 

Learn more about our commitment to sustainability and download our latest Plan A report here.

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