Food maker Mars has announced its commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its full value chain by 2050, aligning with the aim of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 °C.
This stepped-up commitment follows findings in the July Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which reinforced the urgency of achieving net zero globally to prevent the worst impacts of global warming – a critical focus of next month’s COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow. To achieve this goal, the company will focus on four key areas:
- Transitioning to 100% renewable energy. Mars has already made strong progress towards its commitment to reach zero GHG emissions in its direct operations by 2040 (including factories, offices, and veterinary practices). It now sources 100% renewable electricity for the entirety of its direct operations in 11 countries, accounting for more than 54% of its global electricity needs, with plans to make the switch in another 8 countries by 2025. This includes accounting for the growth of the business – such as in the U.S. where Mars recently announced a new power purchase agreement with the Ford Ridge Wind Farm in Illinois, which will not only cover the recent growth of the Mars Veterinary Health business in the U.S., but also includes two of its U.S. suppliers.
- Redesigning its supply chains to stop deforestation. Mars is redesigning its supply chains to help stop deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems in five key raw materials identified as having the greatest risk: cocoa, beef, palm oil, pulp and paper and soy. Action will include a continued shift away from purchasing ingredients based on cost alone – and will focus on enhanced transparency and traceability around the commodities it sources. Mars recently delivered a deforestation-free palm oil supply chain, reducing the number of palm mills from 1,500 to less than 90 mills this year to enable the implementation of strict standards and satellite monitoring. Additionally, it has a goal for all its high-forest risk commodities (beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, and soy) and cocoa to be deforestation-free by 2025.
- Scaling up initiatives in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. Mars will strengthen its programs with farmers to limit GHG emissions and move towards regenerative agriculture. This includes working with farmers and suppliers to promote improved agricultural practices, to promote sustainable land use and to support science and technology, such as genomics research, that pinpoints how to produce more resilient and higher yielding crops. Mars will also take further action to improve soil health to unlock crop yield potential and provide other environmental and climate change benefits. Projects underway include the Cool Soil Initiative, which is supporting resilience in wheat production in Australia, the Sustainable Dairy Partnership, which is scaling up collaboration between dairy suppliers and buyers around the globe, and Oryzonte, a program to improve rice agriculture in Spain, reducing both water use and methane emissions.
- Challenging its 20,000 suppliers to take climate action. Mars is prioritizing collaboration and partnership with suppliers to drive change through the full value chain. This includes its Pledge for Planet program and the recently announced Supplier Leadership on Climate Transition (S-LoCT) which aims to encourage suppliers to calculate their own GHG footprints and to set their own science-based targets. The program provides training and capability building with the ambition to sign up other brands to join and scale the project throughout the supply chain.