Mars, Incorporated is accelerating action to mitigate its impact on water availability in stressed watersheds, with a new commitment to achieve water balance at its five manufacturing sites facing the greatest water-stress challenges by 2025.
By achieving water balance, Mars will ensure every liter of water used at a site is matched through the treatment and reuse of wastewater and by engaging in collaborative water projects that reduce water stress by making more water available in the watershed.
It comes as over 2 billion people currently live in water-stressed countries, with experts predicting water stress will affect over half of the world's population by 2050 if no action is taken now.
Recognizing the critical need for immediate action, Mars is selecting five high-priority sites in Mexico identified as most in need of urgent action to address shared water challenges. These manufacturing operations are responsible for creating products for household brands, including PEDIGREE, WHISKAS, SNICKERS, and M&Ms.
Grant Reid, chief executive officer of Mars, said, "Across the world, water availability is at a crisis point, and the effects of climate change are exacerbating it. It's clear we all have a critical part to play in mitigating our impact on water supplies and to protect the health of global communities."
"At Mars, this includes working to eliminate unsustainable water use across our entire value chain and taking action to ensure we mitigate the impact of our operations on high water-stressed regions. The collaboration will be key and we'll work with partners and local communities to deliver meaningful impact."
As part of this, Mars will also be introducing advanced water-stewardship programs to improve water efficiency, achieve water circularity by ensuring treated wastewater is discharged in a way that reduces stress in watersheds and working collaboratively to balance remaining residual water use through projects that address water stress in the site's catchment.
The business has plans to expand these programs to an additional six manufacturing sites in Asia and Africa soon.
It comes as Mars has joined the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate's Water Resilience Coalition (WRC), alongside over 30 global businesses to drive progress against the global water crisis. The coalition aims to increase investments in innovative solutions to the water-climate crisis and encourage collective action to build water resilience in high water-stressed regions.
This builds on Mars' existing work with the CEO Water Mandate since 2015 to advance progress towards SDG6 (Clean Water & Sanitation). As part of joining the Water Resilience Coalition, Mars will be partnering with other businesses on the Charco Bendito water stewardship program in central Mexico, which will restore land along waterways critical to water regeneration by harnessing collaborative corporate action.
Jason Morrison, president of the Pacific Institute and head of the CEO Water Mandate, said, "Mars' commitment to reducing unsustainable water use and helping secure a sustainable supply of water for communities, farmers, business and nature illustrates how companies can integrate water into their core strategy. By joining the Water Resilience Coalition, Mars recognizes the business community's opportunity to drive water resilience strategies in the face of climate change by sharing best practices, accelerating results and scaling impact through collective action around the world."
It builds on progress Mars is making as part of its multi-billion-dollar Sustainable in a Generation Plan to improve water availability and eliminate unsustainable water use, including its commitment to eliminate unsustainable water use in its full value chain, starting with a 50% reduction by 2025.
This is being achieved by mapping its total water use across its global supply chain, reducing its impact in high-stressed watersheds, and transforming its agricultural supply chain by upskilling farmers in sustainable farming practices that drive water efficiencies.
This includes the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), which Mars Food has helped create a standard for sustainable rice production and promote climate and water-friendly rice production methods. As of 2020, Mars Food sources 99% of its rice from farmers working towards the SRP standards. Similarly, through its Shubh Mint program in Northern India, Mars has trained over 24,000 farmers on Good Agricultural Practices, helping reduce the demand for water by 50% whilst increasing farmers' income and livelihoods in the region by 250%.
Mars has been recognized in the Carbon Disclosure Project's (CDP) "A-List" for environmental leadership on water security.