Why does Mars care about climate change? Why have we committed to making our operations Sustainable in a Generation? Why do we invest in scientific research to improve agricultural crops?
The answer lies in our objective to create a mutuality of benefits by doing business in ways that are good for Mars, good for people and good for the planet. To ensure focus and effectiveness, we root our business decisions in scientific understanding. We strive to understand and quantify our impacts using accepted, publicly available data where possible, and to develop science-based strategies in response. Our targets are based on what is needed to solve the problem, rather than relying solely on what we can achieve in the immediate future.
One of the key scientific inputs we have used in this process is the concept of Planetary Boundaries1, a highly-respected analysis based on a review of existing research which identifies nine environmental impacts and the point at which each one will cause catastrophic harm to human wellbeing. We have combined this data with information about our value chain, and agricultural supply chains in particular, to identify three broad areas of impact most relevant to our business. These three areas encompass the majority of impacts in the Planetary Boundaries model. They are:
The diagram shows how our three areas of impact relate to the Planetary Boundaries model.
The methodologies and available data sets for calculating or estimating these impacts are at different stages of development – they are well established for greenhouse gas emissions, while there is no agreed method for assessing the impacts of land use.
We aim to help develop the methods and data sets required, and are making progress using what data is available in the meantime.
We partnered with both World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Verisk Maplecroft, a consultancy, to analyze the impacts for all our major raw materials and their supply chains. This information was used to assess our next set of priority raw materials, based on the size of their impact, our business priorities and our Principles.
The analysis showed that some of the commodities we use, such as palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, and soy and beef from Brazil could contribute to deforestation and environmental degradation. Soy from the US could also contribute to environmental risk, while wheat from Mexico and Thailand may have a high impact on water use.
To mitigate these risks, we are publishing raw material policies on, for example, palm oil, paper and pulp, beef and soy, as part of our deforestation commitment.
We are carrying out more detailed impact assessments for the priority raw materials we source, and we plan to reduce significant impacts. For example, for a water-intensive crop like rice, some sourced from Spain and Italy, we will focus on helping farmers reduce water use. Similarly, for tomatoes, sourced in part from Portugal and Spain, we want to ensure a secure supply of irrigation water.
Beyond environmental sustainability, we have identified broader issues that we need to address and have plotted their relevance to the success of our business against their importance to external stakeholders. Other criteria taken into account include our level of influence and the scale of the potential impacts on people and the planet. We recognize that we live in a dynamic world and the relevance of each issue may shift, so we review this matrix regularly.
1 A set of nine planetary limits within which humanity can continue and thrive for future generations developed by a group of 28 scientists at Stockholm University in 2009.