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Exclusive interview: Fiona Dawson, Mars Food CEO



Yesterday Mars Food announced its commitment to using 100% sustainably sourced rice by 2020. We asked Fiona Dawson, Mars Food CEO, a few questions about the announcement and more broadly about sustainability.

What does the sustainable rice announcement mean for Mars commercially, socially and environmentally?

As owner of the world’s largest global rice brand, UNCLE BEN’S, we believe it is our responsibility to play a leading role in the development of the SRP (Sustainable Rice Platform) standard. We will be mapping our rice supply chain using the standard, identifying where we have gaps, and developing strategies for improvement. Mars Food has committed to sustainably source 100% of its rice by 2020 using the SRP standard. We made this commitment as part of our Food Purpose – Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow. – and consistent with the Mars Mutuality Principle. We believe adoption of the SRP standard represents a win-win for our rice farmers and our business.

And for us as consumers?

More and more, our consumers care about where their food comes from, how it is made, and the impact it has on the environment. Rice production today has a significant negative impact on our planet — it uses roughly 40% of the world’s irrigation water and is responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With Mars Food’s adoption of the SRP standard, our consumers can have confidence that the premium rice they purchase from us is produced responsibly.

Why did Mars do it?

Adopting the SRP standard is the right thing to do – for consumers, for our rice farmers, and for our business. Mars has an interest in ensuring a long-term supply of high-quality rice to continue producing the products our consumers love. Adoption of the SRP standard helps ensure a more sustainable rice crop into the future.  Sustainable rice farming practices can also have a meaningful impact on the environment and farming communities.

We have already begun testing elements of the SRP standard with farmers in India and Pakistan, and research shows that it is possible to reduce GHG emissions and water use, while increasing yields for farmers. By adopting the SRP standard, we are mindful that rice is not only important to us as a business, but it is a staple food for half of the world’s seven billion people, all of whom depend on a sustainable rice crop for years to come.

Apart from a couple of years at Pepsi, you have been committed to Mars, a Fortune ‘top-rated’ company to work for. What’s the personal draw to Mars?

Mars is a great place to work because of its strong commitment to development and its unique relationship-driven culture. It is also a very inspiring business environment – between our Five Principles and our status as a privately held business, Mars Associates have an opportunity to shape our business over the long-term and advance initiatives that are mutual for all stakeholders. Mars Associates feel very passionate about our business and our Principles, and for that reason, many, like me, spend most of their careers at Mars.

You played a role in drawing up the UK’s Responsibility deal in 2011. What is it and what does it mean for retailers, suppliers and consumers?

Through the Responsibility Deal, companies like Mars have committed to taking action to help tackle some of our biggest public health challenges, like obesity. Mars Food U.K. has reduced salt content across its product portfolio, with 90 percent of products meeting the Responsibility Deal’s 2012 salt targets and 94 percent of our pasta sauces already meeting the 2012 targets. In 2011 we launched DOLMIO Bolognese sauces with 100 percent natural ingredients.

Many of our popular bars, such as Snickers, Mars, and Milky Way, have reduced their saturated fat content and meet our target to not exceed 250 calories per portion. We have also instituted workplace wellbeing programs for our Associates. Actions like these provide our consumers and Associates with healthier options as they seek to live balanced lifestyles. The Responsibility Deal works because it is a partnership of government, industry, and NGOs. Together, we can accomplish much more than any one stakeholder or company can alone.

There are 3.6m companies in the UK – how do we reach the point where every company in the UK adopts genuine ‘responsibility’ as a core business, management and leadership discipline? Paul Polman of Unilever said that his own organisation’s progress would be ‘a failure’ if others don’t follow.

While this week’s launch of the first-ever global standard for rice sustainability is a major milestone for the Sustainable Rice Platform and for Mars, it will only have lasting impact if more rice companies and suppliers adopt the standard. We believe our role is to lead by example – to demonstrate that doing the right thing for the environment can actually further growth and that operating as a responsible business is the right thing to do for all stakeholders.

Is corporate action commensurate with the environmental and social challenges we face, from the perspective of one the world’s largest companies?

At Mars, we believe we have a role to play in addressing the major environmental and social challenges we face. That is why we have stepped up to call for action on climate change, why we have invested significantly in renewable energy, why we are moving towards zero-waste-to-landfill across our manufacturing facilities, and why we are taking action on sustainability in our supply chains. Certainly, these challenges require partnership among a diverse range of stakeholders to identify solutions, but we are committed to doing our part.

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A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”



IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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