We recently heard from Mars, Incorporated’s chief procurement and sustainability officer, Barry Parkin, about the company’s plan to tackle its ambitious climate goals in an EDF+Business “Business of Sustainability” podcast. Their Sustainable in a Generation plan details Mars’ commitment to procure 100 percent renewable energy. Mars is plowing full speed ahead toward these goals and recently, Mars Australia signed 20-year power purchase agreements (PPA) to generate the equivalent of 100 percent of Mars’ electricity from renewable energy by 2020.
As a manager of EDF+Business’ carbon and energy supply chain initiatives, I wanted to learn more about Mars’ approach to meeting its renewable energy goals. What I like about Mars is that they are always willing to share their tips and best practices so that other companies can learn how to start mitigating their impact on the environment. So, I sat down with Mars’ renewable energy manager, Winston Chen – who has been with the company for 15 years – to learn more about their renewable energy strategy and what other companies can learn from being innovative when looking for ways to decarbonize the energy they need to make their products.
Here are the main takeaways from my discussion with Winston:
Winston told me that in order to manage the company’s growth year after year while also meeting its sustainability goals, Mars has to invest significantly in both energy efficiency and renewable energy, which they do through a four-pronged strategy:
“It has to be a balance. We don’t want to take the easy way out. It’s easy to sign another PPA contract and not focus on our own facilities and processes to reduce our actual energy consumption,” Winston said. “That last part is the most critical component of the strategy.”
Mars’ goal is to reduce its energy intensity on an annualized basis by roughly 2 percent to mitigate the overall increase of its carbon footprint because of business growth.
Finding new ways to become more energy efficient is smart business for any company. With technologies widely available on the market to help companies innovate and save energy, solutions that benefit bottom lines and mitigate environmental impact abound. For example, an overwhelming majority of executives at top companies say they are using innovative technologies to drive profitability and environmental performance, according to a recent EDF survey. More than 70 percent of executives surveyed said their business and environmental goals are more closely aligned than they were just five years ago, primarily due to advances in technology.
Leaving energy production to the pros, Mars is able to scale the renewable portion of its energy supply quickly by partnering with other investors in large projects – such as a 60-megawatt wind project in Scotland – that will produce enough power to cover all of Mars’ annual electricity demand in the United Kingdom.
Mars’s PPA strategy has been to focus on its biggest markets first – which it has done over the past five years. This included supporting projects in the United States first, followed by the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, France, Poland, Spain and Belgium.
“In today’s world, more and more people are focusing on making a lot of money but they’re not doing the right thing in terms of minimizing their impact on the environment. This is a big risk to a company’s reputation. I truly believe our renewable energy investments have actually improved our company’s standing in the world in terms of being a sustainable and responsible company.That’s very important to us, not just from a customer standpoint, but also because our associates care about what we can do as a company to minimize our impact.”
From my talk with Winston, it is evident that Mars is a company that truly understands the correlation between a thriving businesses and a healthy environment. I’m excited to see what Mars will do next, and I sincerely hope Winston gets to enjoy several Peanut M&Ms – his favorite type of candy – for answering all my questions about Mars’ renewable energy efforts.
Have you been thinking about what you can do to improve your company’s environmental performance while boosting your bottom line?Join Victoria Mills, EDF+Business’ managing director and Lisa Manley, Mars’ senior director, sustainability engagement & partnerships for a webinar on September 5 to learn how businesses of any size can cut emissions and reduce risks related to climate change.
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Image credits: Mars Inc.