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Mars takes leading initiative in terms of sustainable mobility with electric bikes and zero emission cars towards a greener fleet

Mars Belgium wants to continue to play a leading role in terms of mobility and sustainability. On the one hand, by enabling less use of the car through i.a. working from home and an E-bike solution project; on the other hand, by converting to zero emission electric cars. The ambition: by 2020 a minimum of 25% of the leased fleet cars will be 100% electric and 30% of employees will regularly use the E-bike ‘fleet’.

On 1 October, Mars Belgium launched a test with 100% electric cars to gain knowledge and experience for three months. The pilot project is intended to identify and solve possible hurdles and is done in close collaboration with the fleet-leasing partners and renewable electricity partner Eneco.

Zero Emissions.

Mars Belgium has been using 100% renewable electricity since 2017 to contribute to the global objective: 100% removal of greenhouse gas emissions in direct, own operations by 2040.

Mars launched the first global report of its sustainability commitments in September 2018 under the title ‘Sustainable in a Generation’. That plan is based on three major pillars:

  •  Healthy Planet
  • Thriving People
  • Nourishing Wellbeing

The ‘Healthy Planet’ pillar is focused on ‘Climate Action’ in addition to water and land management. The global ambition at Mars is to eliminate CO2 emissions by 100% from its own operations by 2040.

In this way, 100% of the activities in the US, United Kingdom and in Belgium now run 100% on green wind electricity. Australia and Mexico will follow shortly. In the US, Mars works with the ‘Mesquite Creek Wind Farm’ in Texas. In the United Kingdom, Mars works with ‘Moy Wind Farm’ in the Scottish Highlands. Both ‘wind farms’ supply even more than the equivalent for 100% of Mars operations in renewable electricity. In the United Kingdom this is realised together with partner Eneco, known for its pioneering role in sustainable energy from wind and sun. Eneco is also the electricity partner for Mars Belgium: both the sites in Sint-Stevens-Woluwe and also the Uncle Ben’s® factory in Olen operate on green, renewable electricity.

Taking the right decisions today locally: already sustainable logistics routes and a Green Supply Chain.

Mars Belgium has also already taken many steps to reduce the environmental footprint in terms of transport of raw materials and the entire logistics chain.

For instance, Mars Belgium chooses sustainable logistics routes: more than 90% of the raw material rice for the Uncle Ben’s® factory in Olen, harvested in Italy and Spain, is transported by inland shipping from the port of Antwerp. This means that the Mars Food factory keeps over 3,250 trucks off the road each year.

In addition, Mars chose to work with an ecological logistics campus in 2016, under the umbrella project: ‘Green Supply Chain’, which serves as a distribution hub for all commercial activities. The truck loading and truck routing is reviewed for every delivery to ensure everything is done as efficiently as possible. In the future, the CO2 impact will also be stated on every consignment note to trace it more clearly and communicate it to the retail partners.

Now one step further: fewer cars and more Zero Emission electric cars.

Mars Belgium is now going one step further and is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of travel of its over 400 Associates: both home-work travel as well as travel by Sales Associates.

On the one hand, looking at the possibilities for limiting movements and/or use of the car. The Associates at Mars Belgium can i.a. work from home, which also contributes to improved mobility in addition to a positive impact on work-life balance.  An E-bike fleet project is also being worked on so that employees can come to work more often and more easily by E-bike, which means more exercise for Associates and it contributes to lower emissions and improved mobility.

Markus Gogg, Plant Manager Mars Food Olen (Uncle Ben’s® factory): “We are now reviewing a project on E-bikes and in the coming weeks will decide on the partner(s) with whom we will be working. We are also examining the possibilities for shared-mobility, whether or not supported by an intuitive app that could facilitate this. We are thus hoping that 30% of Mars Belgium Associates will regularly use the E-bike by 2020 for commuting as a contribution to better mobility and lower CO2 emissions.”

On the other hand, where the car remains necessary, an open future vision towards ‘greener’ transport solutions is being sought. Firstly, by switching the fleet to zero emission electric cars, and secondly by reviewing the opportunities for shared-mobility. Mars Belgium encountered a few difficulties on the project of conversion to electric cars:

  • Relatively low to no choice in leasing options for cars from the middle class with more than 200 km autonomy
  • E-car leasing is currently still in its infancy and so there must be cooperation with several partners
  •  Finding local public charging points in some regions is still difficult
  • Despite the promotion and positive intention there is still a lack of clarity in terms of incentives from the various authorities

Learning by doing: E-Cars ‘test & learn’ for three months to identify the difficulties, possibilities and solutions. Ambition: 25% of Mars leased company fleet-cars to be E-cars by 2020. 

Mars Belgium was not to be stopped by the obstacles mentioned: three models of E-cars were selected: Nissan Leaf, BMW I3 and E-Golf that will be tested extensively by a small, but diverse group of employees. Finally, four partners were found who were prepared to join a short term lease established for this ‘test & learn’ project:  KBC Autolease, d’Ieteren Lease, Nissan and BMW Tanghe.

The Associates  participating in the test will keep a diary: ‘my life with an E-car’. Obstacles, possibilities and solutions will then be tackled on the basis of that ‘test & learn’ experience. After three months, an analysis will be done that will provide all the essential information for the further roll-out of this ambitious plan.

Pierre Camé, General Manager Mars Belgium: “We do not want to wait but want to play a leading role through this electric car ‘test & learn’. Each of the local decisions at Mars Belgium are taken with a view to reducing our ecological footprint. In Belgium the market share of electric cars is (*) now 0.1% (slightly over 7,500 cars), the share of electric cars in new registrations is under 1% (*). In a country with more than 5.7 million cars (*), of which 21% (*) are company cars, business and entrepreneurs can play a significant role in Belgium. We can generate a scale effect to accelerate the conversion to ‘Zero Emissions’. Moreover, a smart approach here could allow mobility and sustainability to go hand in hand."

General Manager Mars Belgium: “There is a lot of enthusiasm among Mars Associates to be part of this E-bike and E-car conversion. Long-term sustainability is not only an integral part of our business strategy, it is an ambition of which each the Mars Associates in Belgium want to be part of and contribute to.”