Packaging Materials Sustainability – Sustainability | Mars, Incorporated
Sustainable Packaging

PACKAGING MATERIALS

INNOVATIONS FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Quality packaging makes sure we get you the products you love in a safe and sustainable way; it prevents food from spoiling, enables efficient transport and gives consumers important information about our brands and 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.

PRINCIPLES IN ACTION 2015 SPOTLIGHT: PACKAGING TARGETS

In 2015, 89 percent of our packaging was recyclable or recoverable. We missed our target for this year — but we’re determined to keep improving. To get us to 100 percent, we’re collaborating with our peers, suppliers, authorities and waste management companies to find ways to recycle or recover new packaging formats (such as mixed plastics pouches). 

2015 TARGET: 100 PERCENT OF PACKAGING IS RECYCLABLE OR RECOVERABLE
PROGRESS: 89 PERCENT RECYCLABLE OR RECOVERABLE — UPPING OUR EFFORTS

But making products recyclable isn’t the only way to have a positive impact on the environment. Some of our packs are lighter, so transporting them from our factories to stores to the end customer is more efficient. Even if they’re not recyclable, these packs can result in lower greenhouse gases (GHGs) over their lifetimes — so it’s important to consider every aspect!

Since 2007, we’ve reduced our packaging weight by 5.2 percent. We always knew this would be a challenge — for example, it was an absolute target that relied on us making reductions even as our business grew — and we’ve learned many important lessons on the way.

2015 TARGET: REDUCE PACKAGING WEIGHT BY 10 PERCENT
PROGRESS: 5.2 PERCENT PACKAGING WEIGHT REDUCTION — UPPING OUR EFFORTS

We’ve gone way beyond our target for recycled content. Back in 2007, recycled content made up 21.3 percent of our packaging. Now, it’s nearly doubled to 38.5 percent! A lot of this was due to our increased use of recycled corrugate board, and also by using more recycled aluminum.

2015 TARGET: INCREASE RECYCLED PACKAGING CONTENT BY 10 PERCENT
PROGRESS: 17.2 PERCENT INCREASE IN RECYCLED CONTENT — ACHIEVED
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

THE ROAD AHEAD: MAKING OUR PACKAGING EVEN MORE SUSTAINABLE

We’re evolving our packaging goals to make sure they pave the best way to efficiency and sustainability. Looking ahead, we’ll focus on reducing carbon and reducing waste — the two areas with significant impact for packaging. 

One of our biggest challenges for packaging is the impact of pulp and paper on land use. Because of this, we have committed to address deforestation in our supply chains:

  • 100 percent of virgin pulp and paper-based packaging traceable to at least country of origin by the end of 2016
  • 100 percent of pulp and paper-based packaging from certified, verified or recycled sources by the end of 2020
  • We will develop a further target, prioritizing high deforestation risk areas, once we have full supply chain traceability at the end of 2016.

What we don’t want is our packaging to end up in landfill or in the oceans. That’s why we’re working on positive end-of-life solutions, particularly for the pouches used in our Petcare and Drinks segments. Collaborating with our partners and peers is one of the best ways to learn and make progress — that’s why we became a founding member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative

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

OUR APPROACH

Our goal is to reduce, recycle and rethink our packaging. It’s not always that easy, as alternative materials that appear more sustainable in one way can often have a greater impact in another. However, we don’t get discouraged. We’re currently using an innovative life cycle assessment to make sure that any progress we make doesn’t do harm anywhere else.

In addition to our own work internally, we love to partner with suppliers, universities and other industry experts to share learning and innovation for better solutions. In Australia, our Associates at Wrigley committed to the National Packaging Covenant in 2005 there and have been upholding its standards ever since.

By reducing the amount of material we use in packaging and increasing the recyclability of what we do use, we can substantially lessen our impact on people and the planet. Our aim is to deepen our understanding of every aspect of sustainable packaging and introduce longer-term targets for reducing the total impacts of our packaging.

We want you to get involved, too. We are always working to encourage retail customers and consumers to recycle and to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. See how we’re promoting responsible behavior.

INNOVATIONS FOR PACKAGING SUSTAINABILITY

Our Associates have developed Packaging Sustainability Guidelines that help guide our progress toward a more sustainable future.

One way we’re making good on our goals is with our recyclable Freshpacks, which were developed by Associates at Mars Drinks. We’re creating a single-serve Freshpack that removes an aluminum foil layer and reduces the number of materials we use. It will be a fully plastic, fully recyclable pack that still delivers the same great taste.

An independent study showed that with these simple changes, we were able to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the product by 40 percent. Mars Drinks Earl Grey and English Breakfast teas were the first products sold in recyclable Freshpacks in North America.

It’s our goal to make every package made by Mars more sustainable. At Mars Petcare, for example, our Associates are continually finding new opportunities to reduce packaging for products like wet-food pouches, which already only weigh four grams. Even the smallest differences, like reducing the number and thickness of laminate layers, add up to huge reductions.

Associates at Mars Food are similarly cutting down on packaging weights, reducing the material used in microwaveable pouches for UNCLE BEN’S® Ready to Heat Rice. Elsewhere around Mars, we’re making the glass jars and cardboard boxes we use lighter, saving money and the environment. All in all, we think these changes will save thousands of tons of packaging materials in just a couple years.