Marks & Spencer has revealed that its Plan A eco and ethical programme has injected more than £50m of profit back into the business last year.

In its annual How We Do Business report, the retailer revealed a 20% reduction in its food packaging in the year to March 31, a 19% increase in energy efficiency in its stores and 417 million fewer carrier bags used than last year.

Since the launch of Plan A in 2007, M&S has cut its carbon emissions by 8% and by 20% per sq ft of sales floor.

M&S said that 62 of the original 100 commitments for Plan A have been achieved. It added that 30 are ‘on plan’ to be achieved by 2012, while seven are ‘behind plan’ as a “result of unexpected challenges”.

The use of bio-diesel, for example, is on-hold until sustainable supplies become available.

Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose  said: “Plan A is making a real difference to the environment and for our customers, employees and people working in our supply chains. We’ve introduced products and services to help customers live more sustainably, increased our contribution to local communities and, this year, generated £50 million additional profit which has been invested back in the business.

 “We’ve made excellent progress, but there’s no time to stand still. It is clear that evidence of environmental damage and social inequality has increased since we launched Plan A.”

Rose added that the retailer is “pushing ahead” with its “new, bigger and bolder version of Plan A”, revealed in March, with 80 new commitments and the “ultimate goal to become the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015”.

Other landmarks for Plan A in the last year include 33 per cent less waste sent to landfill year-on-year;  40 per cent of electricity sourced from ‘green’ tariff renewable supplies;  and 1.8 million garments recycled through the Oxfam Clothing Exchange.