AUSTRALIA – Mars Australia, one of the world’s leading manufacturers in the beverage, confections and petcare industries, has signed a 20-year deal in the country to source 100% of its electricity from solar energy.

According to FoodBev, the company which owns brands such as M&M’s chocolate and Extra chewing gum, has partnered with Total Eren, and aims to achieve the landmark by 2020.

Total Eren, a renewable energy company, will build the Kiamal Solar Farm near Ouyen, Victoria, which will be operational in mid-2019.

The Mars power purchase agreement will also facilitate the planned build of a second renewable project by Total Eren in New South Wales.

Mars has contracted for energy to match the electricity requirements of its six Australian factories (Asquith, Ballarat, Bathurst, Wacol, Wodonga and Wyong) and two sales offices (Melbourne and Sydney).

The announcement follows a series of initiatives by companies aiming to source more green energy.

FrieslandCampina, for instance, has doubled the size of its solar panel programme and Grupo Bimbo has inaugurated a new solar plant at its corporate office in Mexico City.

Mars last year announced it would invest US$1 billion to tackle urgent global threats, including climate change and scarcity of resources.

“Mars is thrilled to be flicking the switch to solar energy.

It’s about making a long-term commitment to a sustainable, greener planet that will benefit our customers, our consumers and the local and global community,” said Barry O’Sullivan of Mars Australia.

“The rise in electricity prices last year accelerated our plans to join Mars sites in the US, UK and nine other countries in moving to renewable electricity.

We acted quickly because the price volatility of energy in Australia made renewables the best option for our business, in addition to getting us closer to our commitment to eliminate greenhouse gasses from our operations by 2040.”

The initiative is part of Mars’s broader journey to become ‘Sustainable in a Generation’, with plans to reduce greenhouse gasses across the supply chain by 67% by 2050.

“Last year we announced we’re spending a billion dollars in the next three years to start transforming our supply chain to get those impact reductions.

We’ve made solid progress on the sustainability of our own operations since 2007, so now we’re in a good position to accelerate work and share lessons with our supply chain partners as we tackle impacts beyond our own operations,” said Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars global vice president of sustainability.

Total Eren CEO David Corchia added: “Total Eren has an ambitious vision for the expansion and development of renewable energy in Australia.”

“Partnering with manufacturing thought leaders like Mars Australia is essential and sends a strong message to the rest of the market that now is the time to capitalise on the opportunities offered by renewable power purchase agreements and to drive positive change in the environment.”