AIMARGUES, FRANCE and MCLEAN, VA. — Royal Canin, a leading science-based pet food company and the largest brand owned by Mars, Incorporated, announced Oct. 5 is has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2025. The company aims to have its first product range certified carbon neutral by 2022.

The company stated it will take meaningful action to reduce its carbon footprint across the value chain, measuring its progress against the PAS 2060 standard for carbon neutrality.

“We consider carbon neutrality a necessity for future generations, and it is our responsibility to contribute to this effort,” said Fabrice Mathieu, global sustainability director at Royal Canin. “We know this journey won’t be easy, but we’re committed to taking action to reduce our footprint and making the investments needed together with partners across our value chain worldwide.”

Royal Canin will focus on four action areas to achieve this goal. These include transitioning to renewable electricity; procuring sustainable ingredients; reducing waste and boosting circularity; and climate-smart business transformations.

The company has been working toward renewable electricity for the last 20 years. Currently, 72% of electricity used by Royal Canin comes from renewable sources, and it will continue to strive for 100% renewable by 2025.

Royal Canin stated 75% of its carbon footprint comes from its ingredient supply chains. To reduce this footprint, the company will switch to low-carbon intensity ingredients where possible, as well as work with its rice, wheat and poultry suppliers to support regenerative agriculture practices and avoid deforestation. The company has already certified 100% of its soy sources with ProTerra.

In this vein, Royal Canin will invite key suppliers to join Mars’ Pledge for Planet initiative.

To reduce waste and support circular packaging for its pet food products, Royal Canin will take on efforts to expand recyclability, compostability and reusable packaging usage throughout its portfolio. It plans to introduce mono-material plastic packaging in 2022 and will also begin incorporating recycled content and fewer materials in its pet food packaging.

The company’s sustainable business transformations will include linking senior executive pay and remuneration to climate actions and delivering on emission reductions, setting internal carbon prices and international standards for measuring the carbon footprint of its products, rolling out a sustainability engagement, awareness and training program for all associates, and creating a more collaborative work environment to facilitate conversations on climate challenges.

“As experts in cat and dog nutrition, we have been guided by science for the last fifty years,” said Loic Moutault, president of Royal Canin. “It is science-led initiatives and decisive action, not just ambition, which will help us hit our 2025 climate target. We believe that making this bold carbon neutral commitment will inspire and mobilize new and impactful ideas, action and results across ROYAL CANIN®’s global value chain that will help us improve our environmental footprint and make a meaningful positive difference to pets, people and the planet.”

All this is part of Mars’ plans to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) across its entire supply chain by 2050. The company said it will reach its goal by transitioning to renewable energy, redesigning its supply chains to stop deforestation, investing in renewable agriculture, and challenging its suppliers to take action.

"To deliver meaningful impact and ensure it is fit for purpose, our net zero target covers our entire GHG footprint, from how we source materials through to how consumers use our products, and we're mobilizing our entire business around taking action now and hitting interim targets every five years,” said Grant F. Reid, chief executive officer. "This is going to be a significant challenge, and we won't be able to achieve net zero without the collaboration of our associates, suppliers, customers, consumers and industry partners. It's so important that we work together to drive scale and reach.”

The company said it is redesigning its supply chain to help stop deforestation. Specifically, Mars has identified five commodities as having the greatest risk, including cocoa, beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, and soy. Actions will include a continued shift away from purchasing ingredients based on cost and will focus on transparency and traceability around the commodities it sources. Management’s goal is for the five commodities to be deforestation-free by 2025.

Mars also has committed to working with farmers and suppliers to promote regenerative agriculture. Specific projects underway include a soil health initiative that is supporting resilience in wheat production in Australia; a Sustainable Dairy Partnership, which is scaling collaboration between dairy suppliers and buyers around the globe; and Oryzonte, a program to improve rice agriculture in Spain, reducing both water use and methane emissions.

“We will push the boundaries of what is possible through regenerative agriculture, and this will require an acceleration of our work, along with deeper and more integrated partnerships with our suppliers, and stronger government frameworks that incentivize sustainable practices," said Barry Parkin, chief sustainability and procurement officer.

Mars said it is making progress towards achieving zero GHG emissions in its direct operations by 2040. It is now sourcing 100% renewable electricity for the entirety of its operations in 11 countries that accounts for 54% of its global needs. Management has plans to make a similar switch in an additional eight countries by 2025.

Suppliers to the company also will need to take action. They are being encouraged by Mars to calculate their own GHG footprints and set science-based targets for reductions. Through Mars’ Supplier Leadership on Climate Transition program the company will provide training and capability building with the goal of signing up other brands to join and scale the project.

“This is going to be a significant challenge, and we won't be able to achieve net zero without the collaboration of our associates, suppliers, customers, consumers and industry partners,” Reid said. “It's so important that we work together to drive scale and reach.

"We need to overhaul the supply chains which power global business and put an end to deforestation and the conversion of natural ecosystems to drive meaningful change now. We can't use long-term ambitions as an excuse for inaction and delay."

Read more about sustainability in the pet food and treat industry.