There is no single path to corporate sustainability. Two multinational companies, Mars and Pfizer, illustrate two very different approaches to going green.

Doing well by doing good is a modern mantra. If it becomes action instead of just words, it’s a key pathway to merging profit and sustainability in a company. Two of the world’s top companies — Mars, one of the world’s largest food companies (McLean, VA), and the Pfizer pharmaceutical company (New York, NY) — invest deeply in this concept, and it’s working.

Mars began making candy in 1911, and now it’s not only the top confectionery company in the world but also a major food corporation, with annual revenues of $33 billion. Mars employs 75,000 employees in more than 80 nations. Through practices on its farms and factories, Mars aims to dramatically reduce its environmental footprint. “Climate change, water scarcity and deforestation are serious threats to society,” says Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer at Mars. “It is imperative that global businesses, like Mars, do their part to face down those threats.”

Leaders at Pfizer agree. Tom Polton, senior director of product stewardship and environmental sustainability at Pfizer, says that his company views sustainable development “as part of our commitment to human health.”

These large and profitable companies are transforming their operations for the good of the planet and their profits.

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