For a company famously tight-lipped when it comes to most of its business operations, Mars is incredibly outspoken regarding matters like climate change.
That’s become even more evident as the company launches a $1 billion plan called “Sustainable in a Generation” which expands on goals set previously by the maker of M&M’s, Snickers and other popular food brands.
“Mars has been in business for four generations and intends to be for the next four generations,” Grant Reid, the CEO of the family-owned business with $33 billion in annual net sales and operations in more than 80 countries, said Sept. 5 in announcing the new initiative.
But he added, “The only way that will happen is if we do things differently to ensure that the planet is healthy and all people in our extended supply chains have the opportunity to thrive.”
(Mars CEO Grant Reid elaborates on sustainability in this CNN interview.)
For Mars and other companies, that means paying more attention to not only their own direct operations, where substantial progress has been made, but also their broader supply chains, which are often overlooked, he added.
“Data and connectivity are helping us get smarter about our impact every year. Today, climate science is clear and we understand the environmental and social challenges in our supply chain better than ever before. With this knowledge, it is clear that the scale of intervention needs to be much bolder – now is the time for business to reassess its role and responsibility in the face of the evidence.”
The Virginia-based company made the announcement ahead of this month’s UN General Assembly and Climate Week in New York, where corporations from around the world will reiterate their commitments to reductions in carbon emissions as laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement, even as the Trump administration proceeds with its plans to pull the U.S. out of the pact.
Among the goals of the new Mars initiative is reducing greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain by 67% by 2050, substantially expanding on previous objectives to curb GHGs in its own operations.
Beyond climate action, Mars says it will take more aggressive stands to promote better water and land management, higher incomes, human rights, opportunities for women, and food safety.
During the UN General Assembly, Mars will unveil plans to engage consumers on the new company goals through one of its biggest brands: M&M’s.
Mars already uses renewable energy to power the equivalent of 100% of its U.S. and United Kingdom operations, with more markets to follow in 2018, according to the company.
And it’s not alone in such efforts, as I’ve written before in USA TODAY.
Mars is a founding member of a global organization called RE100 that encourages major companies to commit to using 100% renewable power. So far, 102 companies have joined the group, including Bank of America, Coca-Cola, General Motors, IKEA and Johnson & Johnson.
“We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do but also because it’s good business,” Reid said of the bigger commitment. “We expect to have a competitive advantage from a more resource-efficient supply chain, and from ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is doing well. We also know that increasingly our consumers care about these issues as much as we do.”
That said, it’s a message that seems lost on the Trump administration and Congress and, for that matter, many U.S. voters now. Only time will tell whether more people will feel just as affected by issues like climate change when they go to the polls as they do when they buy a package of M&M’s.