business sustainability

How Mars is aiming for sustainability

The challenge of climate change needs action at every level, from individuals, to local authorities, governments, and international agreements. It also needs action from businesses, and there are thousands of examples of companies who take the responsibility seriously. A whole string of businesses have stepped up to say that even as the US ducks out of the Paris Agreement, they intend to carry on. You can browse the map on We Are Still In.

One company that’s making a substantial commitment is Mars. It’s most famous for chocolate and confectionery, but it owns a number of other brands such as Dolmio, Wrigley, Uncle Ben’s and several pet food names. Mars is a private company, still owned and controlled by the Mars family. And as such, it is free to be radical.

In May this year, Mars committed to “operating within planetary boundaries and delivering a positive social impact”. It has developed a programme called Sustainable in a Generation, which ties its business model into the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The firm set aside $1 billion to reduce emissions and build renewable energy capacity, aiming for a 67% cut in CO2 by 2050. The plan also includes zero-waste to landfill targets, a goal to halve its water use, and a pledge to keep its land use at the same level even if the company grows.

People matter too, and Mars is working with Oxfam to benefit smallholder farmers and raise incomes for those supplying raw materials.

Most of this will take place behind the scenes, but the company is using one of its more high profile brands to campaign for renewable energy. Adverts appeared last month that use M&Ms yellow and red characters to support wind power. The candy is made with renewable energy, and there is a website raising awareness of wind power called Fans of Wind.#

Some people might be cynical about these sorts of initiatives, as it combines marketing with environmental action. But climate change will not be solved without business participation, and the more businesses talk about what they’re doing, the more people than can inspire to take action themselves. Besides, wind power is a strangely politicised issue in Britain at the moment. Maybe a talking chocolate character is exactly what we need to change the tone of the debate.

Here’s the CEO explaining it himself:


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