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Mars: Sustainable in a Generation

Catherine Rowell
|Jun 6|magazine15 min read

Offering over 500 products, exporting to New Zealand and throughout Asia Pacific is Mars Food Australia (MFA), owned by Mars, Incorporated. Mars, Incorporated is a family owned business with more than a century of history, working globally across six different segments: Mars Food, Mars Petcare, Mars Chocolate, Wrigley, Mars Drinks, and Mars Symbioscience.

MFA has over 300 employees, named Associates, creating healthy, easy and affordable meal solutions for Australians since 1967. MFA has a cross segment sales office in Sydney’s Macquarie Park and Melbourne, in addition to the Wyong office and manufacturing plant on the NSW Central Coast just 90 minutes away from Sydney’s CBD.

MFA is in nine out of 10 Australian homes and produces the iconic brands: MASTERFOODS®, DOLMIO®, KAN TONG®, and UNCLE BEN’S®. Responsible for Mars Food Australia’s supply chain operations is Jason Phyland. Previous experience working as Supply Director for Mars Petcare in Thailand and Operations Manager in Australia fully cemented Phyland’s position within the company’s various divisions, and he is behind the drive for Mars to become one of the most sustainable companies in Australia. “Sustainability is always front of mind for us, whether in our own operations or deep within in our supply chain,” he explains. “Our objective is to work with our customers to grow both businesses and in a sustainable way which includes efficiency and sustainable sourcing.”

With this in mind, all Associates at Mars are working towards being ‘Sustainable in a Generation’, which includes investing in renewable energy, reducing water usage, reducing energy usage, maintaining zero waste to landfill, and a packaging material reduction. Over 80,000 Associates across 77 countries are also united by Mars’ five principles: Quality, Efficiency, Responsibility, Mutuality and Freedom, with the long-term aim to create relationships with stakeholders which deliver key growth that the company can be proud of. 

Sustainable in a Generation

Mars‘ ‘Sustainable in a Generation’ initiative has enabled company growth, increased value, whilst reducing cost and greenhouse gas emissions. Phyland‘s operations are therefore aligned against four core strategies: operational efficiency in energy reduction, capital efficiency, placing increased investment in processes and equipment, new technologies and embedding renewable energy sources through collaborative working and key partnerships.

An example of this is MFA’s purpose built Cogeneration facility, which independently produces energy from the grid, reducing CO2 emissions by 3,600 tonnes per year. MFA’s capacity of nine operating lines, including high speed glass and ready to heat, is more than 126,000T annually. Phyland explains: “We’ve seen savings of more than seven percent on the site electricity demand and, during full operation, the cogeneration plant enables us to generate an average of 75-85 percent of the site’s electrical needs.”

Throughout the company’s operations, Mars achieved a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent in 2015, but has the long term aim to eliminate all fossil fuel energy and greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Consequently, a Greenhouse Gas Protocol has been implemented in order to reduce emissions further across the supply chain, with a planned 40 percent reduction by 2020, with an increase in on-site and off-site renewable projects.

LED lights have been installed across the site, leading to “a reduction in energy use by six percent, the equivalent of the power used by 160 homes for an entire year,” according to Phyland. With such changes, quality control and monitoring has also been embedded to ensure these initiatives do not lose their momentum.

Sustainable operations

MFA’s ambition to become increasingly sustainable also focusses on the packaging process, where Packaging Sustainability Guidelines are designed to reduce the amount of material, waste and energy used and ensure an increase in recycled material within this process. For example, the company has adapted packaging for the Masterfoods herb and spice glass jars, which has reduced the weight by up to 10 percent. This will also ensure a reduction in transportation costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Phyland comments: “By using less glass, there were efficiency savings in the manufacturing of the jars, transportation and fuel saving benefits.” In addition, the company has introduced recyclable material for the labels and bottles of Masterfoods squeezy tomato sauce, which has enabled the company “to reduce landfill by 10 tonnes,” reflects Phyland.

Rachel Goldstein, Global Sustainability Director Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Mars, Incorporated, has stated on Mars’ websiteThe sustainability of wrapping 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.” Such extensive effort has enabled MFA to achieve zero waste to landfill status across all its factories, and was the first of the 126 Mars factories to adopt the zero waste to landfill ambition.

Mars’ efforts also filter into its water and waste operations. By adopting a water strategy, MFA is able to monitor the quantity of water used, its source and traceability, local levels of water stress and wastewater quality. Since 2009, MFA has captured and treated 250,000 litres of water each day through the adoption of a Trade Waste Water Conservation facility, which is situated on site. Phyland explains that grey water is used for cooling and flushing, whilst town water is used for products. However, the company is working towards reducing water usage by three percent per annum. Nonetheless, since the end of 2015, none of Mars’ sites send waste of landfill, and four of Wrigley’s factories are part of this process – one of which is situated in Australia. “Regardless of the volume we produce our aim is to have reduced water usage by 15 percent in the next five years,” comments Phyland.

So, what’s next for the company? Phyland explains that MFA is “constantly monitoring and looking for ways to be more efficient and sustainable,” and will aim to embed sustainable energy, such as wind and solar to power all of Mars’ Australian operations and significantly reduce carbon emissions across the supply chain, optimising the logistics network and factories, and maintaining zero waste to landfill. Watch this space…