Mars pledges $1bn to hit new sustainability targets

Global confectionary producer Mars has today unveiled a near-$1bn investment into a new sustainability action plan that uses science-based targets to "drastically expand" on previous carbon goals, as the company's chief executive Grant Reid called on the sector to fix "broken" global supply chains.

Mars revealed today (6 September) that it would invest approximately $1bn into its Sustainable in a Generation plan, a new corporate strategy that sets a 67% reduction in emissions across Mars’ value chain by 2050.

Speaking on the launch on the plan, Mars chief executive Grant Reid said: “If we are to help deliver on the targets agreed in Paris and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, there has to be a huge step change. While many companies have been working on being more sustainable, the current level of progress is nowhere near enough.”

“Mars has been in business for four generations and intends to be for the next four generations. The only way that will happen is if we do things differently to ensure that the planet is healthy and all people in our extended supply chains have the opportunity to thrive. We must work together, because the engine of global business – its supply chain – is broken, and requires transformational, cross-industry collaboration to fix it.”

Mars has so far reduced emissions by more than 29% against 2007 levels, originally targeting a 40% absolute reduction by 2020. However, the new goal has been issued following consultation with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to account for the entire value chain.

WRI recommended that Mars covered its entire value chain with the new carbon target, including emissions from land use-change. Not only has Mars agreed to the 67% target, but it will also agree to “hold flat the total land use associated with [it’s] value chain”.

The new sustainability plan also includes targets to eliminate water use in excess of “sustainable levels” in its value chain and improve the working lives of one million people that it sources from. A Nourishing Wellbeing plan will also target improvements to food safety and product innovation.

Mars will also unveil a new plan to engage consumers on the climate agenda in the coming weeks. Leveraging the promoting power of one of the world’s biggest brands, M&M’s, Mars will call on consumers to champion renewable energy and combat climate change.

The company already purchases 100% renewable electricity to power all 12 of its UK factories and its US facilities. From next year, a total of 11 markets will use renewable energy to cover 100% of operations.

Mars’ chief sustainability and wellbeing officer Barry Parkin added: “We know we cannot grow and prosper unless the planet, people and communities on which we rely are healthy and thriving.”

“Doing what’s right, not just doing better, is at the very core of our new plan. It’s about pushing the boundaries and extending our bold ambitions across our extended supply chain. When we do that, and when others join us, only then will we have the greatest impact.”

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie