Wind power key to Mars’ emissions reduction target

Mars has cut its water consumption and reduced its waste to landfill by two thirds, but its emissions reductions have flatlined, however, a 200MW wind installation is set to change that.

In its third annual sustainability report released yesterday (July 24), Mars announced that it had achieved a 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2007 and 2013, which remains some way off its 2015 target of a 25% reduction.

However, a programme of investment in renewable energy looks set to put Mars on the route to a sustainable energy policy, with the construction of a 200MW capacity wind farm in Texas set to begin in 2015.

The confection and petcare corporation’s ambitious sustainability targets include eliminating 100% of all greenhouse gas emissions from its direct operations by 2040, reducing water consumption by 25% by 2015 and achieving zero waste to landfill by 2015.

The ‘Principles in Action’ report found that Mars had made significant steps to meeting some of its sustainability goals, including reducing water consumption by 13.6% and reducing waste to landfill by 66% compared with the 2007 baseline.

Reducing CO2 emissions had proved difficult however, with Mars’ energy use falling just 6.5% since 2007 and remaining broadly static since 2010.

In his letter to stakeholders, Mars’ outgoing co-president Paul S. Michaels acknowledged the company was facing “substantive challenges in our efforts to become a sustainable business.”

Michaels added that Mars had to focus its attention on long-term investment to enact positive change on the challenges the company shares with society.

“As I’ve noted in previous years’ publications, these include: reducing the environmental footprint of our operations, ensuring sustainable sourcing of our ingredients and, looking at the role of our portfolio in addressing nutrition and obesity,” he added.

Principled business

Mars plans to address its long-term greenhouse gas emissions by collaborating with Sumitomo electric to construct a new 200MW wind farm in Lamesa, Texas, which was announced in April. Once completed, the project’s annual generation will exceed 100% of the energy needs of Mars’ US operations, a total of 70 sites and 25,000 employees, with a enough capacity to power 61,000 US households.

According to Mars, this will provide for more than 12% of its global energy use. The report also stated that the development will have enough capacity to support Mars’ projected growth in the US, allowing it to run on 100% renewable energy into the future as part of a long-term programme to tackle climate change.

“It represents the biggest long-term commitment to renewable energy use of any food manufacturing business in the United States and we hope we will be joined by many others,” said Michaels.

However, Mars still faces major challenges in its supply chain, with more than 85% of its emissions coming from purchased raw materials, transportation and goods and services. It also missed its 2013 target of achieving 100% of coffee beans from certified sources, hitting 73%, but reached its 2015 target of certifying 100% of palm oil sources. More than 40% of its packing now contained recycled material and 84% of all its packaging was now recyclable or recoverable.

Michaels emphasised that “collaboration is key”, with industry leaders and governments working together to find sustainable solutions to modern social and environmental challenges. He concluded his letter stating: “We sincerely believe that a principled business can make the world a better place and deliver long-term performance.”

REPORT: Mars Principles in Action:

Matt Field

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