By Doug Drew, President, Mars Veterinary Health North America
When you enter a career in veterinary medicine, you swear an oath to use your knowledge and skills to protect the health and welfare of animals. It’s easy to see this principle in action when we are caring for our patients. But to truly advocate for the welfare of animals, we must extend our outlook even further – to the future health and wellness of our planet.
Today, we are proud to share a key action we’re undertaking across our veterinary hospitals in the United States: 100% renewable electricity. Mars Veterinary Health is part of a new power-purchase agreement with Apex Clean Energy, enough to provide renewable electricity for our more than 2,000 hospitals nationwide.
In 2020, the human-animal bond strengthened and multiplied as an estimated 11 million pets were added to households across the U.S., a surge largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and people’s desire to enrich their homes with the companionship of a new pet. With that increased bond came increases in the number of veterinary visits – each averaging enough electricity usage to charge more than 600 smartphones.
While we enthusiastically welcomed a special new generation of “pandemic pets” into our hospitals and hearts, we also saw the toll the increased energy requirements would have on our planet. The challenges posed by the pandemic have only served to reinforce our commitments, and Mars Veterinary Health is moving full steam ahead toward our ambition of accelerating climate action and reducing greenhouse gas emissions across our organization.
This new renewable electricity agreement will enable the creation of a new wind turbine farm in Ford Ridge, IL that will not only generate enough energy in one minute to power 36 vet visits, but also provide 250 full-time-equivalent jobs. For our pet owners, this means they can seek the care their pet needs while having a positive impact on the environment. For our Associates, they can maintain their unwavering focus on high quality veterinary medicine, knowing they are helping provide more sustainable care for the pets they love.
While this is our first significant commitment to renewable energy nationwide, it certainly isn’t our last. Our focus on providing sustainable care for pets includes plans to mitigate climate change, reduce waste across the value chain and demonstrate responsible pharmaceutical stewardship – particularly combating antimicrobial resistance.
This agreement makes the U.S. one of eleven markets in which Mars Veterinary Health is already using renewable electricity for its entire operations, and our family of global businesses are already leading in planet-focused efforts within veterinary care practices around the world. For example, Banfield Pet Hospital’s Go Greener initiative enabled the practice to reduce paper use by 34% in 2020, saving nearly 50 million sheets of paper. AniCura is cutting the use of antibiotics in its practices by 50% in five years as part of its effort to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
With each new initiative, our veterinary practices and diagnostics businesses around the world can collectively move the needle on creating more sustainable approaches to veterinary care – sharing resources, best practices, and inspiration – all service of a brighter environmental future for all. We’re proud of the steps already taken within the global Mars Veterinary Health family, and we look forward to sharing more about new sustainability initiatives in the coming months and years.
For the love of our pets, people, and planet, we commit take tangible actions to create a viable future. We hope you will join us in our mission.