Joining the cause of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises by 1.5C, global FMCG giant Mars is committing to net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its complete value chain by 2050.
Mars has expressed this commitment after the importance of reaching net zero was reinforced in the July Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), urging immediate change to avoid the most severe impacts of global warming.
The action for change is a development on the company’s existing Sustainable in a Generation Plan, which set the goal of cutting emissions by 67 per cent in its complete value chain by 2050. It also said it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 27 per cent in its full value chain by 2025.
Global Mars CEO Grant Reid said global intervention needs to be implemented at a faster rate.
“To mitigate this real and tangible threat, the science tells us net zero targets must be broad in their reach, capturing emissions across the entire value chain and plans need to have material, interim targets. We can’t wait decades to see progress.
“However, all too often, this simply isn’t the case – and the gaps that exist in some net zero commitments risks undermining their credibility, and even more importantly, the climate action movement. We can’t allow that to happen,” said Reid.
Mars Australia has runs on the sustainability board. This year it signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Australian renewable energy company Total Eren. This led to 100 per cent renewable energy across all of Mars Australia’s operations, including its six factories and two offices in the country.
With Australia being one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gas per capita globally and electricity generation being a significant contributor, this proved to be a major step towards the goal of zero emissions.
In a 2020 interview with Food & Drink Business, product and packaging development manager Mark Harry said the company was committed to packaging that is one hundred per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
“We believe there is no such thing as a sustainable product in unsustainable packaging. And it’s this belief driving our approach and innovation, to maintain all the benefits while making sure our packaging can be part of a circular economy,” Harry said.
Road to zero
The company has joined the Science Based Target Initiative’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C pledge and the Race to Zero. Mars will deliver a complete blueprint by 2022, having set four key targets to achieve zero emissions.
The transition to 100 per cent renewability has already seen significant progress and is on track to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
Accounting for more than 54 per cent of its global electricity needs, the company has also incorporated 100 per cent renewable energy in 11 countries of operation and plans on creating the transition across eight other countries by 2025.
Mars chief sustainability and procurement officer Barry Parkin said changes in the extended supply chain are necessary to reduce emissions.
More than three quarters of our impacts are embedded in the materials that we purchase - so we must change what we buy or where we buy it or, perhaps more importantly, how we buy it.
“It is also clear that further transformation of agriculture is needed. We will push the boundaries of what is possible through regenerative agriculture, and this will require an acceleration of our work, along with deeper and more integrated partnerships with our suppliers, and stronger government frameworks that incentivise sustainable practices,” said Parkin.
Mars has previously incentivised the action of sustainable practices with its Mars Cool Soil initiative in Australia, which helped 200 grain farmers apply low-emissions farming techniques, along with the ability to measure their emissions output. The initiative paid for soil sampling on up to five wheat paddocks, acting as an incentive for farmers to join the program and has an end goal of reaching across the entire wheat belt of New South Wales.
As part of its 2022 blueprint, Mars is redesigning its supply chain to prevent deforestation. The company has identified cocoa, beef, palm oil, pulp and paper and soy, as five key raw ingredients at the highest risk. To counteract the risk posed to the ingredients, Mars will increase transparency and traceability around the products it sources and will transition away from purchasing ingredients purely based on cost. The company has also set a goal of the high-forest risk ingredients to be deforestation free by 2025.
“We can’t use long-term ambitions as an excuse for inaction and delay.
Scaling up initiatives in sustainable and regenerative agriculture, is the third key goal set by the company. Mars will ensure its current programs with farmers increase in performance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shift towards regenerative agriculture.
“Our roadmap to net zero clearly prioritises reducing our own emissions but there is a recognition within the science community that the agricultural sector will be particularly hard to completely decarbonise,” said Parkin.
The FMCG giant will work with its farmers to improve agricultural practices, implement sustainable land use, and support science and technology with genomics research, to produce genetically more resilient and higher yielding crops.
With collaboration and partnerships being the primary driver for change in the supply chain, Mars will challenge its 20,000 suppliers to take climate action as its fourth goal. This is inclusive of the company’s Pledge for Planet program and Supplier Leadership on Climate Transition, developed for suppliers to calculate their own greenhouse gas emissions and formulate science-based targets. Training and capability building is provided in the program, with goals of encouraging other brands to join and scale the program through the supply chain.
Mars has also expressed significant changes across industries, government and the broader society is paramount to limit global warming.
“This is going to be a significant challenge, and it we won’t be able to achieve net zero without the collaboration of our associates, suppliers, customers, consumers and industry partners. It’s so important that we work together to drive scale and reach,” said Reid.
Potential residual emissions that cannot be driven to zero emissions will also be targeted by the company, committing to neutralise them with verified socially beneficial carbon credits, along promoting transparent carbon prices.