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Candy Maker Mars is the Latest American Company to take Bite Out of Emissions

In an effort to appeal to its customers and to help maintain the objectives of the Paris climate accord, candy company Mars Inc. says that it will enforce its own greenhouse gas emissions goals across its supply chain. It is one of many major US companies that says the policies set by the current administration will have no effect on its own corporate mission.

The McClean, Virginia based company says that it will spend $1 billion to achieve its goal of hitting 40% greenhouse gas cuts by 2020, all based on a start date of 2007. The aim is 67% by 2050.

“Mars has been in business for four generations and intends to be for the next four generations,” Mars Chief Executive Grant F. Reid said in a statement.  “The only way that will happen is if we do things differently to ensure that the planet is healthy and all people in our extended supply chains have the opportunity to thrive.”

“We expect to have a competitive advantage from a more resource efficient supply chain, and from ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is doing well,” he added.

Mars, like Wal-Mart, General Mills and Marriott International that have financial power, are trying to ensure that those with whom they do business — their suppliers and their partners — are also striving to reduce their environmental footprints. It’s a way to leverage their buying power while also using it to improve the working lives of millions, the candy maker says.

A number of methods exist to cut corporate-wide emissions, including buying electricity from wind and solar facilities as well as implementing energy efficiency measures. While such companies do not generally build and operate power plants — although they can as Google has such ownership stakes — they typically contract to buy power from developers. In other words, a wind and solar developer will build out those plants because they have firm buyers already lined up and under long-term agreements.

“We want to make sure Walmart is a company that our associates and customers are proud of – and that we are always doing right by them and by the communities they live in,” notes Doug McMillon, chief executive of WalMart. “That’s really what these commitments are about. And that’s why we’re so passionate about them.”

It is sourcing more energy from renewables and has dedicated itself to paying its associates more. It says it is dedicated to doing the right thing, and giving people more access to more products. It says it wants to redefine what it means to do good.

The context, of course, is that the Trump administration has withdrawn from the Paris climate accord that tries to keep temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius by mid century. The White House has also said that the US would try to curb or cut altogether the Clean Power Plan, which tries to limit CO2 emissions from power plants and manufacturing facilities.

Along those lines, companies are committed to saving water. Water is not just used to irrigate crops. It is also used to generate electricity and run industrial processes. Indeed, water and energy are inextricably linked as various segments of the economy compete for limited resources. Governments and businesses alike are now calling for concerted conservation efforts.

MillerCoors has set 2020 water goals that it expects to save billions of gallons. Water is the primary ingredient that goes into its beverage, although the majority of the water associated with it is for barley growers, which harvest the components that go into the beer.

Marco Ugarte, sustainability manager for MillerCoors, told an Environmental Leader conference that the company’s main goal is to get its water-to-beer ratio down to 3-to-1. What that means is that it wants to use 3 gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. With some 500 beer makers, he says that many are using 5-to-9 gallons of water to make one gallon of beer.

In 2015, the company cut its water usage across all breweries by 129 million gallons. It had a water-to-beer ratio of 3.29-to-1. He adds that of the company’s water use, 10% goes into beverages and 90% goes into the farming of the crops used to make the beer. 

The corporate community is generally seeking to become more sustainable and carbon friendly, driven in large part because of market economics and the effect that has on profitability. A change in federal leadership has minimal impact those goals. In fact, nearly three-quarters of companies expect their commitment to environmental causes to be the same while about one-fifth will increase those efforts, says Lucid and Urjanet.

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