Packaging Materials Sustainability – Sustainability | Mars, Incorporated
Sustainable Packaging

PACKAGING MATERIALS

INNOVATIONS FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Quality packaging lets us get you the products you love in a safe and sustainable way. It enables efficient transport and prevents food from spoiling; and differentiates our brands on the shelf while giving consumers vital information about our products. It’s important to be as efficient as possible in our packaging. We need to find ways to keep protecting our products while doing as little harm as possible to our environment.

Our approach

We learned a lot from working toward our 2025 goals (take a look at our Principles in Action Summary for more). And we are dedicated to continually evolving our packaging goals to make sure they pave the best way to efficiency and sustainability. Looking ahead, we’ll focus on reducing waste and reducing carbon — two areas with the most significant impact for packaging. We will:

  • Continue to work towards 100% recyclability of our packaging by 2025
  • Partner with others to improve recovery of our packaging
  • Focus on optimizing packaging in a way that reduces the carbon footprint over its lifetime – in line with the Mars, Incorporated approach to carbon
  • Address deforestation in our pulp and paper supply chain.

What we don’t want is our packaging to end up in landfill or in the oceans. That’s why it’s so important to focus on recyclability – the ability to recycle; and recovery – recycling in practice. Our Associates have come up with a whole host of innovations that make our packaging easier to recycle. Take a look below. And we’re collaborating with our partners and peers to learn more about the best ways to enable recycling — for example, by becoming a core partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.

Recyclable packaging is an important way to reduce waste and reduce carbon. But we also find other ways to optimize our packs. This often means using less material – so that packs have a smaller carbon footprint, and transporting products becomes a whole lot more efficient. Even if they’re not recyclable, lighter packs will result in lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over their lifetimes.

Innovations to reduce our packaging footprint

Our Associates use Packaging Sustainability Guidelines to channel the ways we’re making good on our goals.

At Mars Drinks, we’re committed to reducing the environmental impact of our product and processes. That’s why we closely examined the Freshpack life cycle, then ranked the steps in order of their carbon emissions. What we found was that extracting raw materials for our packs was the biggest carbon contributor. So, we went to work on a solution! Our new Freshpack design no longer contains an aluminum foil layer – instead, the pack is made of fewer materials, while delivering the same great taste. The result? A 31 percent carbon footprint reduction for our Freshpacks. And, with our Recycle Your Freshpacks program, the packs are fully recyclable too.

Mars Petcare Associates are constantly finding new opportunities to reduce packaging like wet-food pouches, which already weigh only four grams. Even the smallest differences, like reducing the number and thickness of laminate layers, can add up to huge reductions. Associates at Mars Food are also reducing packaging materials, by cutting down the weight of the microwaveable pouches for UNCLE BEN’S® Ready to Heat Rice. Elsewhere around Mars, we’re making our glass jars and cardboard boxes lighter – saving money and protecting the environment.

PRINCIPLES IN ACTION 2016 SPOTLIGHT: PACKAGING RECYCLABILITY TARGET

We’re constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our packaging. In 2016, 90 percent of our packaging was recyclable. We’re working hard to innovate and find ways to make the remaining 10 percent recyclable. We’re also focusing on reducing waste and carbon associated with our packaging. We’re working with partners across industry, such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Initiative; and we’re innovating by exploring how we can make packaging from materials that would otherwise be thrown away, such as potato waste.

2025 TARGET: 100 PERCENT PACKAGING RECYCLABLE
PROGRESS: 90 PERCENT RECYCLABLE OR RECOVERABLE — ON TRACK
Rachel Goldstein

“We know that before customers — or their pets — get to eat or drink their delicious Mars product, they first have to unwrap it. The sustainability of that wrapper is becoming a growing concern for our customers. We’re working hard to make it as easy as possible for them to recycle, and be confident that Mars packs aim to have the lowest possible impact on the environment, while still providing the quality and safety our customers know and trust.”
Rachel Goldstein, Global Sustainability Director Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Mars, Incorporated

Dennis van Eeten Mars

“New innovations in packaging mean that we can make packs from a huge variety of raw materials. But for me, it’s important that we choose the right materials. For example, they should not be potential food crops.

I started thinking about whether it was possible to make packaging out of materials that would otherwise be thrown away. I noticed that the potato-processing industry generates a waste material that could have the right properties to make into packaging. Five years ago, I launched a project to see if we could make flexible plastic films — like the ones that surround our MARS® and SNICKERS® Bars — out of the potato waste material!

After a lot of testing, and generous funding from the EU, Mars launched these potato-based wrappers for a five-month pilot in 2015 in Germany, France and the Netherlands. Other than the interesting raw material, the packs are completely normal — they comply with food contact regulations and can be used on conventional food packaging machines. I’m looking forward to seeing the material being rolled out across more markets!”
Dennis van Eeten, Packaging Innovation Manager, Mars Chocolate