WORKING TOWARD MORE SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES
Over thousands of years, the farming and herding that helped us grow as a species has transformed up to half of the Earth’s landscape1. While much of that transformation was necessary and good, it has also lead to poor soil quality, fractured ecosystems and lessened biodiversity. This is a particular threat in the tropics, the home of cocoa, coffee, tea and palm oil — all key crops for Mars.
At Mars, our Associates are working to stop the cycle of environmental degradation and create a greener future for all. Reduced crop quality and yields can create the need for more pesticides and fertilizers, which can in turn lead to even poorer soil quality. By acting now, we can halt the global slowdown of yields in crops like wheat, rice and maize.2
We want to make life better for farmers in the tropics, who have small tracts of land and small or no profit margins, struggling to make a living and support their families. Declining yields put them under pressure to clear forests to plant more crops, which only makes things harder in the long run. We’re beginning with seeing how our business affects these communities, to best determine where we can help.
ASSESSING OUR IMPACTS
Our Associates are currently figuring out exactly how farmers throughout our supply chain use their land and how we can help. This is just the first step toward our ultimate aim of measuring and reducing the impact we have on land use. To begin, we’ve measured our land use in three areas:
Factories — Factories are hugely important to business, but their land use only accounts for around 0.05 percent of total use in our value chain.
Raw materials — It takes a lot of land for our partners to grow the raw materials we need for our business — 97.8 percent of our total use.
Packaging — Packaging our products takes up a bit more land than producing them — 2.2 percent of our total land use.
With this information in hand, we can go about making a difference. One approach is to use biodiversity hotspot maps to help us see where reducing land use needs to be a priority. A more sophisticated approach would be to develop a land use impact “factor” that takes into account things like biodiversity impacts, soil fertility and soil erosion.
For more information, please see our Deforestation Prevention Policy.
Vitousek, P.M.; Mooney, H.A.; Lubchenco, J.; Melillo, J.M. 1997. "Human Domination of Earth's Ecosystems.” Science 277:494-499
Source: Alston, Beddow and Pardey (2009)