Mars Inc., the producer of the Mars candy bar, Snickers, and M&Ms, has announced its intention to spend $1 billion on sustainability initiatives.
The company will be allocating about a third of the funds to more efficient energy and water usage; another third will be used to simplify its supply chains. The last third will be devoted to other projects including continuing to eradicate artificial ingredients from its products, a goal the company first set in February 2016.
“It’s the end of the commodity era," Barry Parkin, chief procurement and sustainability officer at Mars, told Bloomberg. "The nature of a commodity is that it’s the same everywhere and you can just buy on price and no one asked or knew where it came from. That’s no longer acceptable.”
Many of the new initiatives will be centered around reducing the company’s exposure to environmental, social, and governance risks, Bloomberg reports.
“Deforestation is probably the biggest environmental issue and on the social side, it is forced labor and extreme poverty,” Parkin says. “Those are the challenges of sourcing anything from the developing world.”
The company also hopes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040, a decision that Parkin tells Bloomberg is not only motivated by the fact that "it's the right thing to do," but also by the rapidly increasing price of carbon.
“With 26 million tons of CO2 in our extended supply chain, even if you took a conservative $20 per ton view on that, that’s half a billion dollars of cost," he says. "When we have a significantly smaller footprint than our competitors, we’ll have a cost advantage.”
This is one of the first times that the notoriously private Mars family and associated Mars candy company have made such public statements about their philosophy, Business Insider reports.
"For most of our history, in fact ... for 99% of our history, we've chosen not to be in the public eye and we've really wanted our brands to engage consumers. And yet times have changed," Mars chairman Stephen Badger told the outlet. "Consumers do want to know more about not only the brands that they're buying, but the company that is behind them."
"We feel a responsibility to do our part in addressing them and part and parcel of being able to do that is to speak publicly about our stance on these issues and hopefully enroll others to work with us in a coalition to address them."
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