Pet Industry News sat down with Marika McCauley Sine, Global VP Sustainability at Mars Petcare, to discuss the company’s sustainability model and targets.

Across the world, we are witnessing the effects of climate change and businesses such as Mars Petcare are starting to take notice by implementing procedures that lessen the impact their model has on the environment.

Here is what McCauley Sine had to say about the company’s efforts towards creating and maintaining a sustainable business model.

PIN: Could you outline the key commitments that Mars Petcare has made as part of its sustainability roadmap?

McCauley Sine: To create a better world for pets, planet, and people, we’re on a mission to bring even more innovative, sustainable choices and services to pet owners around the world.

Our key commitments include:

Net Zero emissions:  As part of Mars, Incorporated’s Sustainable in a Generation Plan, we aim to reduce the carbon footprint of our value chain by 27 per cent by 2025 and to reach net zero emissions by 2050 including all scope 3 emissions (as defined by SBTI), from a 2015 baseline. We’re accelerating our work to source 100 per cent renewable electricity for our factories and veterinary hospitals, remove deforestation risk from our beef and soy supply chains, and activate regenerative agriculture programs.

Sustainable Sourcing: As we source our ingredients, we are working toward more sustainable sources in collaboration with our suppliers, particularly for our Petcare priority raw materials of beef, soy, and fish where we can have the biggest impact.

Packaging: We’re also taking action to contribute to Mars, Incorporated’s 2025 goal of 100 per cent of our plastic packaging being reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

Pet Wellbeing: We’re on a mission to increase access to food, care and homes for pets in need, and as a leading provider of pet care, we have an obligation and an opportunity to use our voice to influence change at scale.

PIN: How will Mars Petcare go about living up to these commitments?

McCauley Sine: We are transforming the way we work, from how we source raw materials like fish, beef and soy to our own operations – all with the aim of helping people and the planet thrive. At the same time, we recognize that addressing these issues is a generational challenge, which is why we are building lasting partnerships with NGOs, governments, and industry to help transform systems at scale.

Here are some of the ways in which we are progressing:

Since 2017, we have played a leading role in the Cool Soil Initiative, which by 2023 aims to reach 200 Australian wheat farmers across 700,000 hectares of land in north-east Victoria and southern NSW. Through this industry-wide coalition, partnering with experts at Charles Sturt University, we’re helping to increase soil health and improve farm resilience.

Overall, Mars, Incorporated is already sourcing 100 per cent renewable electricity for the entirety of its direct operations in 11 countries, accounting for more than 54 per cent of its global electricity needs, with plans to shift to renewable in another 8 countries by 2025. This year all 2,000+ Mars Veterinary Health hospitals in the United States will be fuelled by 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Royal Canin, Mars’ biggest brand, last year announced plans to pursue carbon neutrality for its entire portfolio by 2025.

Through our decade-long partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) we’re pursuing our goal to acquire 100 per cent of our fish from sustainable sources aligned to our guidelines – today, we are at 81 per cent globally.

Through our brand Dine we’ve started the world’s largest coral restoration program, aiming to restore coral reefs measuring more than 185,000 square meters by 2029.

Our packaging efforts are focused on reducing, reusing and recycling. For example, in working to cut down on the amount of plastic we use we reduced our usage by 23 tons of plastic and 60 tons of paper in our Pedigree Schmackos sachets and cases in 2021 in Europe, which represents a 12 per cent reduction in plastic usage and a 36 per cent reduction in paper in Europe for this brand.

PIN: How are you measuring your progress?

McCauley Sine: Our Sustainable in a Generation Progress Report is a useful indicator of how far we’ve come in our mission to build a better world for pets, people and the planet.

As we measure our sustainability progress, we always strive to take a science-based approach.  For example, as our Royal Canin brand pursues its goal of carbon neutrality by 2025, a science-based methodology is being used to calculate each product’s carbon footprint adhering to the PAS 2060 standard for carbon neutrality, and also taking a pro-active and mutual approach with value chain partners to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

PIN: What are the biggest challenges to creating a more sustainable food supply chain?

McCauley Sine: We need to take bold action across supply chains to end deforestation, reduce emissions and protect people – this work is fundamental to delivering more sustainable food for people and for pets. That’s why we’re taking action now to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, redesigning our supply chains to address deforestation risk in our beef and soy supply chains, scale up initiatives in sustainable and regenerative agriculture, and to partner with our suppliers to drive change through the full value chain.

PIN: Has implementing new sustainability measures affected revenue?

McCauley Sine: Mars has been proudly family owned for over 100 years. It’s this independence that gives us the gift of freedom to think in generations, not quarters, so we can invest in the long-term future of our business, our people, and the planet — all guided by our enduring Principles.

Take renewable energy for example. There is a significant timescale involved in these types of deals, some of which span multiple decades and territories across the globe – we approach them with a mindset of delivering societal impact and making financial sense. This ladders up to our Net Zero ambitions which we’re looking to achieve by the year 2050.

PIN: Are you seeing a consumer trend towards purchasing “greener” products?

McCauley Sine: Yes, we are certainly seeing growing interest in sustainable products and services amongst pet owners.

Take alternative proteins as one example. According to a recent RaboResearch report, demand for insect protein as an ingredient in pet food could hit half a million tons by 2030, up from 10,000 tons today. In fact, our own survey of 1,500 cat owners across the United Kingdom found nearly half (47 per cent) would consider buying insect protein.

In 2021 we launched Lovebug, the first insect-based cat food in the UK. These insects are grown on a farm that runs on 100 per cent renewable electricity and they are fed on 100 per cent surplus veggies and plants, reducing food waste.

Also, Karma™ is a new brand plant-first dry dog food we launched last year in the U.S., which makes it simple for pet owners to incorporate a plant-first, nutritious, delicious diet into their pets’ lives. The brand is committed to sustainability through its ingredients, partnerships, and business practices. We have a partnership with TerraCycle, which means our packaging is recyclable through TerraCycle’s program or locations.

PIN: How important is creating a more sustainable food system to Mars Petcare?

McCauley Sine: Very! We believe that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. That’s why we’re so focused on packaging circularity, sustainable sourcing, and all aspects of our sustainability plan. We all need to do our part to build a more sustainable future for tomorrow.

Image: LinkedIn/marika-mccauley-sine

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