M&S has announced a £1 million investment into a change to the diet of the pasture-grazed cows in its milk pool to reduce the amount of methane produced in a cow’s stomach and released into the atmosphere.

This initiative will be implemented by all 40 M&S select dairy farmers with the aim of removing a projected 11,000t of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere annually.

This would cut M&S’ Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)-assured core fresh milk carbon footprint by 8.4%.

The retailer has also launched a £1 million ‘Plan A Accelerator Fund’ and is now working in partnership with its suppliers to take “rapid action” towards net zero through a series of innovation projects.

M&S chief executive, Stuart Machin, said: “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.”

Further projects will be announced by M&S in the coming months, and one of the initiatives will look at the use of new agricultural technology.

The technology will aid in the production of a field of net zero root crops with a minimum till approach, and using low carbon fertilisers, biological controls and autonomous farm vehicles and drones.