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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Mars Reveals Hits, Misses on 2015 Health, Energy, Packaging Targets

Mars, Incorporated’s latest Principles in Action report captures the company’s performance on its targets for 2015, 2020, and those which are ongoing. Guided by its Five Principles of Quality, Responsibility, Efficiency, Mutuality and Freedom, the company has met and continues to pursue a wide range of sustainability, health and wellbeing, food safety, responsible marketing and workplace engagement objectives.

“We have made significant progress toward making our operations truly sustainable over the last five years,” said Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability and Health & Wellbeing Officer for Mars. “But we also missed the target in some critical areas — such as sustainable packaging improvements — so there’s plenty more to be done. Over the next five years — and beyond — we will continue to bring our Five Principles to life across our entire supply chain, from farm to consumer.”

In 2015, Mars achieved two of its four sustainable operations goals: to generate “zero waste to landfill” from all Mars manufacturing sites globally, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 25 percent (from a 2007 baseline). Regarding renewable energy, Mars’ Mesquite Creek wind farm in Texas began generating the equivalent of 100 percent of the electricity needed to power its U.S. operations in 2015, and the company has since launched the Moy wind farm in Scotland, which will generate enough electricity to power all 12 Mars sites in the U.K. These successes signify strong progress towards the company’s larger goal to de-carbonize its direct operations by 2040, despite that the company fell short on its 2015 targets to reduce fossil fuel and water use by 25 percent each (achieved 18.1 percent and 16.9 percent, respectively).

As for health and wellbeing, Mars met its ongoing targets in 2015 after achieving its 2015 target two years early: In 2013, the company reduced the sodium in its Mars Food products globally by 25 percent compared to a 2007 baseline; and last year, over 99 percent of Mars chocolate and confectionary products were below 250 kcal. It also delivered on its commitment to provide GDA labeling on 99 percent of all chocolate, confectionary and food products. Mars took a leadership position in supporting leading health authorities’ advice that people should limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of total calories.

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In addition, Mars is looking at how to reformulate products to reduce salt, fat and sugar without compromising on taste – in part through new Food Nutrition Criteria to guide its Food segment in making its products healthier – and aims to help consumers understand which of its products are “everyday” options and which should be limited to “occasional” treats or indulgences.

While the company far exceeded its goal to increase its packaging with recycled content – nearly doubling from 21.3 percent in 2007 to 38.5 percent in 2015 – only 89 percent of its packaging was recyclable or recoverable last year, short of the 100 percent target. Further, they only achieved a 5.2 percent packaging weight reduction despite a 10 percent goal. The company has set pulp and paper-related goals for 2016 and 2020 and joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative as a founding member to further its progress on packaging.

“While we want to give ourselves a chance to celebrate progress, we’re keenly aware that big challenges remain. We know many of the farmers who grow our raw materials, such as cocoa, mint, rice and tea, are not earning a sufficient income. Obesity and malnutrition remain global challenges. Climate change and a sustainable future for agriculture need to be urgently addressed,” Mars’ CEO Grant F. Reid wrote in his statement in the report.

“But I’m optimistic. I’m confident that we are making a positive impact by using science-based information, working in partnerships and empowering Associates. I’m also certain that if we – business, government, nongovernmental organizations and society as a whole – work together to face our common challenges, we can secure a great future for generations to come.”

100 percent of Mars’ owned-brand coffee is from certified sources (since 2014), and the company aspires to source 100 percent of its cocoa, rice, and seafood from certified and/or sustainable sources by 2020.


Speaking of the company’s coffee, Mars Drinks issued its five-year review and its new sustainability goals for 2016-2020, entitled MARS DRINKS Towards 2020. The segment says its ultimate goal is to become “the most sustainable workplace drinks solution” and to that effect, has set targets related to its operations and product waste.

Mars Drinks reduced its factory sites’ energy and water use by 65 and 63 percent respectively compared to 2007, far exceeding Mars’ 25 percent goal. Over the next five years, the Drinks segment aims to:

  • Achieve a 15 percent reduction in energy intensity from a 2015 baseline;
  • Achieve a 15 percent reduction in water intensity from a 2015 baseline; and
  • Insure 100 percent of its new technology platforms are “more sustainable” than previous versions.

Furthermore, the segment expects to contribute to its parent company’s packaging goals with the following targets for 2020:

  • Provide 100 percent of customers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany with a sustainable end of life solution for all Mars Drinks technologies, KLIX® cups and single-serve Freshpacks waste; and
  • Use sustainable design to reduce the carbon footprint of single-serve Freshpacks and KLIX® cups by 25 percent.

The company is also working in partnership with World Coffee Research (WCR) to help address the challenges of poor productivity, low farmer incomes and impacts of climate change within coffee and tea communities. Related case studies are included in the report. Similarly, Mars is working with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) to help cocoa farmers adapt to climate change.

Samantha Veide, Mars Drinks’ global director of Corporate Sustainable Solutions said, “While we are clear that our single most important priority for the next five years is to work to solve the waste challenge for our customers, we also recognize that we have a responsibility to ensure we are making positive changes in our own supply chain by sourcing agricultural materials and manufacturing our products more sustainably.”

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