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Three Ways Mars is Dealing with Waste in its “Sustainable in a Generation Plan”

Mars candy bar
Mars is focused on both reducing waste and disposing of the waste it creates in a sustainable way and looks at disposal in a landfill as a last resort.

In an address last week, Mars CEO Grant F. Reid said business needs to lead “transformational change” to tackle the most urgent threats facing the planet and its people. Reid, who was speaking ahead of the upcoming UN General Assembly and Climate Week in New York, announced the company will invest $1 billion in its Sustainable in a Generation Plan.

In the report, the company says it hopes to grow “in a way we can all be proud of.”

By combining business principles with science, the company also says it will focus on three long-term goals including: a healthy planet—by reducing environmental impacts in line with what science says is necessary to keep the planet healthy including setting a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emission across its value chain by 67 percent by 2050; thriving people—by improving the working lives of one million people in its value chain; and nourishing well being—by advancing science, innovation and marketing to help billions of people and their pets lead healthier lives.

Mars is focused on both reducing waste and disposing of the waste it creates in a sustainable way and looks at disposal in a landfill as a last resort, the report said.

“We’re dedicated to making our waste count, whether through recycling, incineration or energy recovery. Sometimes, eliminating waste can actually use more energy or water overall, so we carefully look for the lowest-impact solution in every unique case,” according to the report.

Mars included three important waste issues that play a role in its Sustainable in a Generation Plan.

Zero Waste: By the end of 2015 Mars had achieved its goal of sending zero waste to landfill. The company, which generates approximately 10 million tons of product annually, set zero waste from 126 global manufacturing sites to landfill. Although the goal for zero waste continued in 2016, the company met with challenges, as two sites did send waste to landfill in three periods during 2016. In one instance, heavy rain and high temperatures led to contaminated cardboard waste by fruit flies, which rendered it unsuitable for recycling. The total amount of waste sent to landfill was 23 tons, which amounted to 0.02 percent of the more than 154,000 tons of waste sent to landfill in 2007—before its zero waste to landfill program began. Mars Chocolate’s October City site in Cairo became the first facility outside of Europe and North America to stop sending any waste to landfill—the 12th site in is global supply network to achieve the goal.

Packaging: Packaging does many things including, differentiating brands on the shelf and allowing for efficient transport and preventing food spoilage. In the report, the company said it is important to be as efficient as possible in its packaging and it needs to find ways to keep protecting its products while doing as little harm as possible to the environment. Packaging accounts for roughly 10 percent of the Mars’ total greenhouse gas emissions. In the report Mars highlighted work done by Mars Drink, where the company removed the layer of foil from its Freshpack resulted in a 31 percent carbon footprint reduction, and the packs are fully recyclable through its Recycle Your Freshpacks program.

Looking ahead, Mars says it will focus on reducing waste and reducing carbon—two areas with the most significant impact for packaging.

It will continue to work towards 100 percent recyclability of its packaging by 2025; partner with others to improve recovery of its packaging; optimize packaging to reduce the carbon footprint over its lifetime; and address deforestation in its pulp and paper supply chain.

Anti-Litter Programs: Mars also discussed anti-litter campaigns it has in place to educate children and others about litter and waste. For seven years, the Wrigley Company Foundation has worked with the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), an international nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable development through environmental education. The global partnership with FEE will reach 1.8 million students in 35 countries through the multi-year Litter Less campaign. Grant support totaling over $6 million since the partnership began has enabled the education campaign to inspire action, with a 20 percent positive change in students’ behavior and perception of the issue following completion of the program.

Additionally, the company also has a program dedicated to reminding communities to properly dispose of their gum. Mars says it takes the issue seriously and recognizes that littered gum, like all litter, is about changing behavior. One way Wrigley helps is by including a logo on all gum packages encouraging proper disposal.  

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