Packaging Materials Sustainability – Sustainability | Mars, Incorporated
Sustainable Packaging
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INNOVATIVE PACKAGING

FOR A HEALTHY PLANET

Packaging plays an important role in delivering our products to consumers. It protects ingredients as they move from farms to factories and finished products as they move on to customers and consumers. Packaging helps preserve the freshness of our products, conveys important legal and nutritional information, differentiates our brands on shelves and provides consumers with portion guidance and convenience. While packaging is essential for consumer goods, it also poses some real challenges. It is not always recyclable, and even when it is recyclable, it is not always collected or recycled, which means it can end up as debris on land and in oceans.

At Mars, we take our responsibility for sustainable packaging seriously and strive to design the best packaging to do the job while also being mindful of how our material and design choices will impact people and the planet we share. To ensure we are doing our part, Mars is working towards 100% recyclable packaging by 2025. 

Progress against our goal will require system-wide solutions: for packaging to be recycled, the materials used must be recyclable, there must be infrastructure in place to collect and recycle those materials, and consumers must dispose of packaging materials responsibly. Therefore, beyond the actions we take in our own business, Mars works collaboratively with partners to address the challenges of material availability, waste management infrastructure and consumer education, in addition to supporting governmental policies that advance holistic solutions to packaging waste and pollution.

Download the full Sustainable Packaging Plan

Have packaging questions? We have answers.

Our approach to sustainable packaging is guided by three interrelated areas of focus:

  • Materials & Design
  • Recycling Infrastructure
  • Consumer Behavior

WHY SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING MATTERS

The world is facing significant environmental challenges, including:

  • Changes in our climate and atmosphere
  • Degradation of forests
  • Significant increases in ocean waste

At Mars, we recognize the scale of these challenges and believe it’s time to take urgent and transformational action.

Packaging at Mars

At Mars, we’re taking action across our packaging footprint.

  • sp_system_icon1Primary Packaging

    What our consumers take home.

  • sp_system_icon2Secondary Packaging

    Outer cartons, shipping trays, and retail displays.

  • sp_system_icon3Tertiary Packaging

    Distribution pallets, stretch wrap, etc.

RECOGNIZING THE ROLE OF PACKAGING

Packaging plays an important role for not only Mars, but the consumers who enjoy our products. It’s many functions include:

Protects

Packaging protects our products as they move throughout our value chain and on to customers and consumers.

Preserve

Packaging meets demands for freshness, portion control and convenience.

Informs

Packaging conveys important legal and health information.

Highlights

Packaging draws attention to our products and provides unique brand information.

Sustains

Packaging meets demands for freshness, portion control and convenience.

HOW MARS MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Weighing the important role packaging plays in the Mars value chain against the long-term negative effects waste is having on the environment, we’ve turned our focus to our packaging materials and design, support for recycling, and consumer behavior.

Our Challenge

We are looking at the design of our packaging through the lens of recyclability and, where possible, choosing materials that allow our packaging to be reduced and reused again.

Our Goals

  • Continue to work toward packaging that is 100% recyclable by 2025
  • Increase recycled content of pulp- and paper-based materials

Our Solution

We are working to optimize the amount and type of packaging materials used to sell our products by moving to lighter or thinner materials which can yield benefits beyond weight reduction. At Mars, we use a comprehensive design and analysis approach to ensure we achieve reductions in total packaging impact without compromising product safety or increasing food waste.

Mars is addressing global challenges by working towards sustainability, including moving to 100% recyclable packaging.


Our Challenge

Effective infrastructure is critical to collecting and recycling of used packaging. Collection services need to be convenient, recovery facilities must optimize the power of today’s technologies, and markets for recycled materials should support a business case for material recovery facilities.

Our Goals

  • Support industry-wide adoption of initiatives that improve collection and recycling of packaging after consumer use
  • Identify and support the development of new technologies and innovations that expand the amount of packaging material that can be recycled

Our Solution

Through our engagement with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, we’re collaborating on a blueprint for an “all” plastics sorting and recovery facility that will enable more than 90% recycling of after-use plastic.

In Europe, Mars is actively advocating for more transparent and harmonized extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes to ensure that packaging is collected and recycled. We are working with Europen to achieve successful end-of-life management of packaging.

We’re working with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) as part of a committee advancing a landscape assessment of activities to collect multi-material films. Mars also co-chairs the Coalition’s Forest Product Working Group, developing tools to identify and address risks in forest product supply chains.


Our Challenge

As a manufacturer, we have a responsibility to use packaging materials that can be recycled or reused. This means we also have a responsibility to educate consumers on what to do with packaging after they enjoy our products.

Our Goal

  • Encourage responsible consumer disposal of packaging

Our Solution

We’re collaborating with NGOs, local and national governments, campaign groups and the wider industry to promote litter education and behavior change. One example of our efforts to inform and engage consumers is our REDcycle collaboration in Australia – a program that invites consumers to reteurn empty soft plastic pet food packages to participating supermarkets for recycling. Once collected, the plastic is recycled into a range of sturdy products suitable for use in parks and public spaces.


COLLABORATING WITH OTHER GAME CHANGERS

We’ve set some pretty big goals, and we know we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re collaborating at every stage of our packaging lifecycle with organizations that are just as committed to a healthy planet as we are at Mars.

Mars is a core partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy Initiative. This initiative is working with several NGOs, policymakers, academics, and others to create an affective plastics system. We’re also signing on to the EMF Global Commitment.

Learn more about this initiative

A Mars packaging expert is the Vice-Chair at EUROPEN, the European packaging association. EUROPEN provides information, data, and more related to the sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and end-of-life of packaging.

Learn more about EUROPEN

A Mars packaging expert chairs the Circular Economy Working Group within the Sustainability Committee at FoodDrinkEurope, working to unlock sustainable growth and innovation for a resource efficient, circular economy in the food and drink industry.

Learn more about FoodDrinkEurope

Mars works with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition on a committee advancing a landscape assessment of activities to collect multi-material films. Mars also co-chairs the Coalition’s Forest Product Working Group, developing tools to identify and address risks in forest product supply chains.

Learn more about the coalition

Since Mars does not produce our own packaging, we actively collaborate with our key suppliers to ensure our packaging materials and designs are as sustainable as possible.

Mars is a core partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy Initiative. This initiative is working with several NGOs, policymakers, academics, and others to create an affective plastics system.

Learn more about this initiative