Water Impact: Reduce Water Use & Improve Quality – Sustainability | Mars, Incorporated
Water Impacts

Water Stewardship

Taking Responsibility for our Resource Use

Water scarcity affects more than 40% of people globally, and that percentage is rising with population growth. Agriculture is the biggest user of water, which means to manage water sustainably, we should focus on what’s grown in our value chains and where it’s grown. We also should factor in the impacts of climate change on the availability of water. In many places, climate change will alter precipitation patterns, not only with more or less rain, but also with changes in the timing and intensity of rainfall that could damage agriculture.

As part of our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, our ultimate goal is to eliminate water use in excess of sustainable levels.

Mars relied on science to set this goal for better water stewardship. We’ve mapped the total water use across our global supply chains and assessed whether that water comes from natural rainfall or irrigation. Where we currently rely on irrigation, we’ve assessed whether the watersheds used for that water are experiencing stress, and we’re prioritizing our efforts on those watersheds under the most stress. These watersheds are located in Australia, India, Pakistan, Spain and the United States. As we work toward our ultimate goal, our interim target is to cut unsustainable water use by half by 2025, in close collaboration with our suppliers and others across our extended value chain.

Read the details in our Water Stewardship Position Paper

Our Water Stewardship Action Plan

Within our direct operations, we’re focused on using water efficiently, promoting water reuse and recycling, and preventing pollution through responsible waste water management. We delivered an absolute reduction in global water use of 18% from 2007 to 2015; we’re now focused on delivering an additional 15% improvement in water efficiency within our manufacturing facilities in water stressed regions by 2020.

In our supply chains, we’re assisting with farmer training and technology that helps advance more sustainable water use. Where we can’t reduce water use to sustainable levels, we may engage in water recharge activities, such as landscape restoration, to recharge water levels to the point necessary to meet our targets. These recharge activities will be in the same watersheds as those within which we operate/source and they will be independently verified.

If interventions can’t help relieve stress on a local watershed where we source, we’re prepared to change where we source to protect that watershed.

Every Drop of Water is Precious

As populations continue to grow, our Associates want to help. Everyone at Mars is focused on using water more efficiently in our production processes and in everyday life at the office or factory.

Carefully managing the water we need for our operations is vital to protecting our business, our communities and the planet. We appreciate every drop, safeguarding water quality and availability wherever we operate.

Some places are in more urgent need of water conservation than others. Our research shows that 43 percent of our plants are located in areas with high water stress.1 In 2016, we introduced new, more challenging water use targets for all sites with high local water stress.


Water is precious - that’s why we’re always looking for ways to improve our water efficiency. This year, we teamed up with the World Resource Institute (WRI) and WWF to develop ambitious water targets based on the latest and best science. Our new target focuses on water-stressed sites as we know that’s where we can make the biggest difference. In 2016, we improved our efficiency at these sites by 3.3 percent. We’re sharing what we’ve learnt about science-based targets with others so we can collectively save precious water resources for generations to come.



Conserving water is important all the way down our supply chain. We work with our Tier 1 suppliers to help them use water more sustainably. We focus on our agricultural suppliers, who rely on water the most of anyone in our supply chain — this includes our rice, tea, tomatoes and mint suppliers.

From the Mississippi Delta to Pakistan, we are working with the rice farmers we rely on to improve the water efficiency of rice. One great example is the work we’re doing on an alternate wetting and drying irrigation technique, which is proven to reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions with little or no impact on yields.

Our scientists developed this technique through research with farmers and universities in the Mississippi Delta, the results of which will be used to inform the project in Pakistan. We are also collaborating with our peers on the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative’s Sustainable Rice Project Group and the Sustainable Rice Platform. We’re all working together to come up with a pragmatic, global standard for sustainable rice production.


We want to conserve every drop of water we use. We typically treat our wastewater so that it’s either as pure — or purer — as what we found or clean enough to discharge into municipal wastewater systems for further treatment.

Improving the quality of our wastewater is just as important as cutting down the amount we use. That’s because reducing volumes can actually increase the concentration of waste within it. We test our wastewater quality periodically, but we also recognize that we can get better at monitoring the volume we release. Because many water utilities only measure the amount of water used — not wastewater discharged — we’re installing our own meters to get the complete picture ourselves.

Our Petcare facility in Mogi Mirim, Brazil, was the first Mars operation to develop a water self-sufficiency program. Through a combination of conservation, reuse, rainwater capture and an onsite well, these innovative Associates are saving around US$626,000 per year.

Our Wrigley factories across Asia also manage their own wastewater treatment. The treated water is reused for on-site amenities — lessening the burden on municipal treatment systems. We are also working on increasing the number of our sites with large-scale rainwater harvesting systems.

1 Using the Baseline Water Stress measure from WRI’s Aqueduct tool, we consider high stress to be any area where withdrawals are more than 40% of available flow.

Around the world, Mars sites are working to lessen their impact and create more responsible water-usage practices.