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Mars' Paper Trail Helps Cocoa Farming Communities

May 20, 2010
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Putting pen to paper now may help garner financial opportunity for women and their families in cocoa farming communities in Indonesia. Mars Sustainable Solutions, a new business unit at Mars, Inc. that’s dedicated to delivering restorative and sustainable solutions, has launched a MyCocoaPaper product line - notepads, greeting cards, book marks, leather bound books - that’s handmade in Indonesia from 70% natural cocoa bark and 30% recycled office paper waste. With the introduction of MyCocoaPaper, Mars aims to create economic opportunities that encourage healthy and sustainable cocoa farming practices.

Successful cocoa farming includes regular pruning of trees, which provides better access to light and nutrients, the company says. In many farms, the prunings are burned as firewood or simply discarded as rubbish. Through partnership with local Indonesian organizations - working not only with cocoa farming communities, but with long-standing artisans and craftsmen - Mars is supporting the creation of a new use for cocoa tree prunings: cocoa paper products.

The handmade cocoa paper process starts with the purchase of cocoa bark stripped during pruning at farms where Mars sources cocoa. The paper then is made at the Wisnu Foundation, a local nonprofit organization, which combines the cocoa bark with collected recycled paper.

Finally, the MyCocoaPaper products are individually crafted by an all-woman team of workers at the Saraswati Paper Co., producing sustainable, handmade cocoa paper products free of harmful chemicals.

“What we are trying to encourage is that by creating a beautiful product, people can see that their waste can become something beautiful and also something viable, and hopefully encourage other businesses to do the same thing,” says Kali Sari, founder of Saraswati Papers.

“The women we employ come here to learn a special skill, and it’s our hope we can give these women opportunities,” she continues. “Some women have gone on to become school teachers, and others have gone on to create their own small companies. We’re happy women can come here and feel part of a supportive group.”

The debut of MyCocoaPaper continues Mars’ long-standing commitment to be a part of delivering restorative and sustainable solutions that have positive economic, social and environmental implications in the communities in which they work.

“MyCocoaPaper enhances the livelihoods of those in communities where we operate, creating economic opportunities that support the livelihoods of women,” says Elizabeth Willett, MyCocoaPaper project manager at Mars Sustainable Solutions. “MyCocoaPaper will help drive home the importance of sustainable business models that have a positive impact on our planet.”

MyCocoaPaper is debuting in limited release exclusively at M&M’s World in New York and Las Vegas. For more information, visit www.mycocoapaper.com.

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