Mars says new 'carbon neutral' chocolate bar will 'protect the earth'

Mars says its will produce one of the first ‘carbon neutral’ chocolate bars to appear on UK shelves by 2023.

The company is also promising to will slash its carbon footprint by more than 20% within 14 months, in an announcement which coincided with the crucial Cop26 climate summit.

But experts and environmental groups questioned the confectionary giant’s claim, branding the updated Mars bar a ‘sugar-coated gimmick’.

The company says Mars bars sold in the UK, Ireland and Canada will be certified as carbon neutral by January 1, 2023, adding that it will work with an independent auditor and use the PAS 2060 standard for carbon neutrality.

Mars bars, more than 200 million of which are sold in the UK alone, will also be trialled in fully recyclable paper packaging next year – while the company says it will reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Yet Greenpeace and the food and environment NGO Feedback ridiculed the claim and urged the company to do more to reduce deforestation and emissions, particularly in its supply chain.

Dairy and cocoa are key contributors to greenhouse gases and deforestation, while experts say ‘carbon offsetting’ should not be used as an excuse to continue damaging environmental practices.

The company did not say how it would produce dairy more sustainably and said it would be making 20% reductions in emissions, with 80% in offsetting.

Greenpeace forests campaigner Diana Ruiz told ‘Mars’ so called carbon neutral chocolate bars are yet another sugar-coated gimmick.’

She added: ‘The food conglomerate’s business model remains tied to massive land-use and agricultural emissions. 

‘After more than a decade Mars has yet to put an end to deforestation tied to its supply chains and its net zero pledge does not translate to the necessary actions that are needed now.’

But the company is promising to ‘supercharge’ its efforts to sustainably transform supply chain practices, including by using satellite data to geomap cocoa farms and by accelerating partnerships with suppliers who produce dairy more sustainably.

It said any emissions that it cannot eliminate will be ‘offset by high-quality carbon removal credits’, including reforestation and land restoration.

The plan to make a carbon neutral bar within 14 months is forecast to be roughly equivalent to charging more than 13 billion smartphones, according to company calculations.

Adam Grant, Mars Wrigley UK’s general manager, explained: “At Mars, we believe that actions speak louder than words and, to create a world tomorrow where our planet is healthy, we are clear that bold action must be taken today.

Our pledge to deliver a certified carbon neutral Mars bar… supported by significant reductions in the near term, is the kind of immediate climate protection intervention needed to deliver a sustainable tomorrow.’

Mars also pointed out that the factory it produces its bar in sources 100% renewable electricity.

Yet that is not enough for Feedback, whose head of policy, Jessica Sinclair-Taylor, told ‘The appeal of a guilt-free Mars bar is easy to understand, but like many corporate climate commitments this pledge lacks sufficient detail to reassure customers that Mars can deliver on its environmental promises.

‘Mars’ wider climate targets acknowledge that the company’s carbon footprint is bigger than that of some countries, with the lion’s share of these emissions coming from agriculture and deforestation. ‘Fixing these supply chain problems means getting serious about reducing emissions from emissions-intensive products like dairy, by setting targets to reduce how much dairy they use in their supply chain.’

She added: ‘Only reducing carbon emissions from producing their Mars bars by 20%, and reaching for offsets to deal with the remaining 80% emissions, simply isn’t ambitious enough: offsets are too often being used as a “get out of jail free” card for climate problems companies just don’t want to deal with, with no guarantees that emissions reductions will occur long-term.’

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