Would you feel less guilty eating a Snickers bar knowing it’s made using 100% renewable energy?
Mars, Inc. announced that all electricity for US operations will come from wind: 70 sites that house 37 factories and 25,000 employees – about a quarter of its global footprint or enough energy to make 13 billion Snickers!
The company is buying all the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from Mesquite Creek Wind farm in Texas, a 200 megawatt project that consists of 118, 1.7 MW GE turbines spread over 25,000 acres. The project comes online in mid-2015.
The biggest long-term commitment to renewable energy of any food manufacturing business in the US, the move is part of Mars’ mission to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Its short term goal is reduce emissions 25% by 2015 (from 2007 levels), which it will meet through Mesquite Creek.
"By making this commitment to buy renewable energy, Mars is sending a clear message that companies, private and public, have the power to lead the world on climate change. It’s good for the bottom line, it’s good for the environment, and projects like this leave a lasting legacy of values we hold dear," says Jonathan Butcher, Sr., a founder of BNB Renewable Energy, which jointly developed the wind farm with Sumitomo Corporation of Americas. It is being built by Blattner Energy.
Sustainable Palm Oil
Since oils are ubiquitous in Mars’ products, in March, the company announced it build a sustainably-sourced supply chain for its palm oil.
All suppliers must have a fully sustainable and traceable palm oil supply across all their operations by the end of 2015, or have plans in place by then. As a member of The Forest Trust, field teams will work with Mars’ suppliers to help them build that traceability. Mars says it will provide progress updates every six months on Mars.com.
And it’s going beyond that, launching a "deforestation policy," which will initially focus on other raw materials it uses that greatly impact forests: beef, pulp and paper, and soy.
"Rapid expansion of palm oil plantations continues to threaten environmentally sensitive areas of tropical rainforest and carbon-rich peatlands, as well as the rights of communities that depend on them for their livelihoods. We have recognized that even though we have already implemented a 100% certified supply of Palm Oil this is not enough. We believe these additional measures will not only help build a genuinely sustainable pipeline for Mars, but will also help accelerate change across the industry by encouraging our suppliers to only source from companies whose plantations and farms are responsibly run," says Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability Officer of Mars.
This year, Mars began buying certified palm oil as a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), but this new policy goes much further, creating a fully traceable supply chain.
Even though a company buys 100% certified palm oil through RSPO, it is still blended with conventional oil – from unknown sources – to keep the cost and complexity down of creating separate supply chains. The Roundtable is struggling to get certified palm oil beyond a niche market and has been criticized for setting the bar on certification too low.
"While the RSPO charter discourages destructive practices, many techniques, such as native forest conversion, peat drainage, and field burning are still technically allowed. The RSPO puts no hard limits on greenhouse gas emissions, nor does it require reporting on emissions. Furthermore, the organization has shown an unwillingness to act on violations. In several instances companies that have withdrawn as members have kept the RSPO certification on their products for years with no recourse taken by the organization," says Portfolio 21 in an analysis.
Mars has been around since 1911, when Frank Mars made his first candies in his kitchen in Tacoma, Washington. His son joined the company in the 1920s and the famous Milky Way bar was born. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has since grown to the fifth largest private US company, according to Forbes, with $33 billion in sales a year and 75,000 employees worldwide. It produces a wide range of food products from Pedigree in Petcare to Uncle Ben’s rice and Seeds of Change.
Read "Perspectives on ‘Sustainable’ Palm Oil by Portfolio 21, a leader on sustainable investing: