An ‘ESG’ candy jar



Mars Wrigley has been in the Philippines since 1965, and its Antipolo manufacturing plant was established in 1999. The American confectionary company is reputed to be the fourth largest privately held company in the USA, creating globally known confectionary products, snacks, pet food, and offering pet-related services. 

With the Mars, Incorporated takeover of Wrigley in 2008, we now have one company behind such familiar candy jar goodies as M&M’s, Bounty, Twix, Mars, Maltesers, Skittles, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit, and Cool Air – and the pet food brands of Pedigree, Royal Canin and Whiskas. Perusing all those brands, and you’ll appreciate that their slogan of “Inspiring Moments of Everyday Happiness” isn’t idle chatter – whether you’re a human or a pet!

I had the opportunity to visit their Antipolo plant last week, and met Factory Director Fernando Del Castillo. Fernando was visibly proud of the factory, and how it produces Doublemint, Juicy Fruit and Cool Air for the whole region. Only 10 percent of its output is sold locally, the bulk is exported to China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Maldives.

But even prouder “Fernando moments” were when he spoke about the Mars Wrigley “Sustainable in a Generation Plan,” their ESG (Environment Social and Governance) agenda, and the global corporate target of Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 – and how the Antipolo factory was a wonderful example of how this is being achieved. The most tangible, physical evidence of this commitment to sustainability is their newly installed Biomass Boiler.

MARS WRIGLEY Antipolo Factory Director Fernando Del Castillo.

The Biomass Boiler cost $1 million to fabricate locally; and instead of running on diesel fuel, it utilizes rice husk or coconut shell as a thermal renewable energy source. As the boiler is phased into the factory’s system, it will mean a decoupling from fossil fuel dependency. The shift to solar energy to supply part of their electricity requirements is next in line for the factory. 

As Fernando explained, at Mars Wrigley, the people working for the company are referred to as “associates,” and not as employees. That’s reflective of the kind of relationship the Mars family would like to encourage with all who are part of the company. The commitment to sustainability, to upholding initiatives that pertain to an ESG agenda, are all part of the “drill” when joining the company. 
As Fernando took pains to explain, it’s not something they want spoon-fed and just followed, as a condition for working there. They want all associates to understand why sustainability is so important, and invest in the notion – so that it’s a philosophy that resonates, and one that they can explain to the community. 

For Mars Wrigley, this interaction with the immediate community, with the Antipolo LGU, and with local organizations, is of much importance. The “environment” in the Mars Wrigley context is not just stewardship of the planet and the physical surroundings of where they’ve set up plants, it’s also about the human and social capital that exists even beyond the perimeter of the factory, and how the factory has a responsibility in that arena. 

THE RECENTLY INSTALLED Biomass Boiler at Mars Wrigley Antipolo. 

The Mars Wrigley Sustainable in a Generation Plan has four main focus areas: Healthy planet, thriving people, nourishing wellbeing, and transforming packaging. They have even devised a Generation Plan scorecard that comes out annually, and helps the company measure commitment and progress throughout all its global operations.

While healthy planet will have more to do with the environment, thriving people initiatives have led to unlocking opportunities for women, and promoting gender equality in the workplace. To date, women hold some 48 percent of management roles; and in the Antipolo plant, the associates are evenly distributed 50/50 across gender. 

Similarly, under thriving people, in the Mars Wrigley cocoa supply chain in West Africa, there is child labor monitoring, and remediation systems in place. A Farmer Income Lab was founded in Ghana in 2017, increasing the income of cocoa farmers, and putting as many as 15,000 farmers on the path to a sustainable living income. 

Their nourishing wellbeing efforts have to do with improving nutrition, and access to healthy meals for both people and pets. A Global Food Safety Center, Mars Food & Nutrition, and a Mars Petcare Biobank operate under this focus area. 

Mars Wrigley embraces paper packaging, is developing reusable and refillable packaging, and eliminates unnecessary packaging. The goal is to transform 100 percent of their portfolio into reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging.

Mars Wrigley takes pride in its being a purpose-driven company; conscious of how there are four forms of capital – human, natural, social, and financial. All four have to work harmoniously. If not, then what financial capital and gain one achieves, will only last for the short term.