Corporate responsibility: How 3 animal health companies are living out their commitment to the environment

Leaders from Zoetis, Mars and MWI share what they’re doing about greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction and much more.

Amid global environmental challenges, three global animal health companies are emerging as powerful advocates for sustainability. Whether implementing eco-friendly practices or conducting foundational research, Mars Veterinary Health, MWI Animal Health and Zoetis are all pursuing a greener future for pets and livestock, as well as the humans who coexist with these animals. We spoke with representatives at each company about what they’re doing and why. Here’s what they had to say.


Part of the Mars Incorporated family, Mars Veterinary Health is a global network of veterinary practices made possible by 75,000 Associates who care for millions of pets across nearly 3,000 clinics in more than 20 countries each year.

margo headshot 


Margo Mosher
Global Sustainability Director, Mars Veterinary Health



Bowman Report: What sustainability initiatives has Mars Veterinary Health undertaken in recent years?

Margo Mosher: Our planet is in the midst of a climate crisis, and across Mars Veterinary Health we recognize that bold action is needed to protect our planet, along with the people and pets depending on it. As one of the leading providers of veterinary care in the world, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to take climate action at scale and lead the way toward a more sustainable profession.

As part of Mars Incorporated’s Sustainable in a Generation Plan, we’ve assessed our global veterinary business’s environmental footprint and set targets in three key areas: climate change, waste reduction, and pharmaceutical stewardship.

As part of Mars Incorporated’s Sustainable in a Generation Plan, we’ve assessed our global veterinary business’s environmental footprint and set targets in three key areas: climate change, waste reduction, and pharmaceutical stewardship.

Climate change. We are part of the Mars Net Zero 2050 Commitment and are dedicated to reducing emissions and our impacts on climate change. One of the first steps we took on our climate journey was conducting a cross-business greenhouse gas emissions inventory to determine how much we emit and from where. We performed a comprehensive assessment of scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions to understand our carbon footprint, revealing the majority of our emissions come from purchased goods and services, such as medical supplies required to care for pets.

The next step was identifying where and how we can drive reductions. We’ve developed emissions reduction plans to include actions across our business, such as sourcing renewable electricity for our veterinary clinics, modifying anesthesia protocols to limit environmental impacts, collaborating with suppliers to reduce emissions, and assessing low-carbon commuting options for our Associates and clients.

We’re currently implementing these reduction plans across our business to cut emissions. One of the early “wins” we’re well on our way to achieving is sourcing 100% renewable electricity by 2025, with our U.S. veterinary practices already at 100%.

Hospital waste. With nearly 3,000 veterinary clinics around the world, we recognize that the business of treating pets creates waste. From the sterile, single-use medical equipment and supplies used in exams and surgeries to the packaging from those supplies, our veterinary clinics—like most medical facilities—create waste on a daily basis.

We started work in this space by conducting a waste inventory, totaling the weight and type of all waste from our global clinics to provide a quantitative picture. That baseline information enabled us to track trends and reductions moving forward.

Ideally, our goal is to avoid the creation of waste in the first place by identifying opportunities for avoidance and reusability. For example, our VCA hospitals are installing water filtration systems to help decrease the use of single-use water bottles and the associated waste. For waste that is unavoidable in certain instances right now (such as certain product packaging, gloves, and syringes), we’re looking at more and better ways to recycle and improve circularity.

Reducing hospital waste requires work both upstream and downstream—with our suppliers to change how products are composed and packaged, and with waste vendors, municipalities and our Associates to improve and increase recycling. We’re currently in the process of conducting an internal waste study to better understand which products to focus our energy on, so we can drive the most waste reduction. 

Responsible pharmaceutical stewardship. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an important topic for our profession and the planet because we not only need to ensure antibiotics continue to work to treat sick pets, but also because pharmaceuticals impact the environment when they’re discarded and when they’re excreted from patients, entering waterways and impacting ecosystems.

Across our thousands of global veterinary clinics, we’re working to use antimicrobials judiciously and only when warranted—for pet health outcomes and to protect the long-term efficacy of antibiotics and combat AMR in the years to come.

For example, the AniCura hospital group in Europe continues to drive year-over-year reductions in systemic antibiotic use in its clinics through practice-wide measurement, feedback and collaboration. Veterinarians with Linnaeus in the U.K. provide clients “non-prescription forms” to explain alternative treatment recommendations. And U.S.-based Banfield Pet Hospital analyzes its extensive electronic veterinary medical records database to study pet healthcare topics and publish resources like the Veterinary Emerging Topics (VET) Report, which focused on AMR prevention in 2017 and 2018.

Last year we hired Mars Veterinary Health’s first Responsible Pharmaceutical Stewardship Lead, who marries 20-plus years of experience in veterinary practice with infection control and antibiotic stewardship expertise to help our global businesses implement responsible pharmaceutical stewardship programs that enable high-quality care for patients.

BR: Does Mars Veterinary Health look at sustainability in the sourcing of ingredients and materials?

MM: The products we procure are a significant part of our impact because much of our carbon and waste footprint originates from the materials and products we buy and use in our veterinary clinics. Part of our sustainable sourcing work is identifying products that have a lower impact on greenhouse gas emissions and/or waste—and substituting accordingly. We also prioritize sourcing products with packaging that is reusable, recyclable or made of recycled content.

A key component of our sustainable sourcing work is partnering with our suppliers. Many are implementing sustainable initiatives for their operations and products, and this helps reduce both their and our impacts. A few avenues we’re exploring with our suppliers include sourcing renewable electricity for their manufacturing, using electric vehicles to distribute their products, and making product improvements to reduce waste. We’re also offering a training and education program, Supplier Leadership on Climate Transition (SLoCT), which helps suppliers measure their carbon footprint, set science-based targets, and work toward reductions.

BR: What surprises has Mars Veterinary Health encountered since embarking on these sustainability efforts?

MM: The greenhouse gas emissions from Associates and clients driving to and from our clinics was a larger portion of our carbon footprint than we anticipated. Most of our 70,000 global Associates and millions of clients drive to and from our clinics in gas-powered passenger vehicles, with a small percentage walking, biking and using public transit or electric vehicles.

This reality can be hard to tackle at scale, given that in-person visits to a veterinarian are so important and because we’re limited by whether the infrastructures of the communities we serve include public transit options. We’re looking at creative ways to incentivize the use of alternative commuting pathways and electric and hybrid vehicles, while realizing this type of behavior change is difficult to influence and requires creativity and collaboration with our local communities.

BR: How do you engage Mars Veterinary Health employees in sustainability initiatives?

MM: Environmental sustainability can often feel overwhelming, with many wondering how their individual actions could possibly make a measurable difference on a global issue like climate change.

With so many of our Associates telling us they’re passionate about environmental sustainability and looking for ways to reduce waste and recycle more, we work to channel that energy and make it easy to take small but meaningful climate-friendly actions in day-to-day practice—without adding more workload on top of their busy patient schedules.

For example, last year, we invited Associates to make minor changes in their day-to-day routines like using reusable water bottles and food containers, adjusting the thermostat for efficiency, and commuting using lower-carbon transportation—actions that crossed over between personal and professional life. Participating veterinary teams were highly engaged, and we saw encouraging results.

We’re working to increase recycling rates at all of our clinics. Thanks to the passion and commitment of our hospital teams, our BluePearl business has made significant progress on our sustainability journey, having recently implemented recycling initiatives at all 108 of its hospitals nationwide. This includes recycling options for electronics and computer hardware, in addition to paper, plastic, cardboard and glass.

At some of our clinics, we’re piloting a take-back program for hard-to-recycle items like flexible plastic pet food packaging to divert it from landfills. Once these programs are implemented, we’ll stay connected with participating clinics to understand how it’s going, what can be improved, and how else we can improve recycling and further reduce waste in ways that feel supportive rather than disruptive.

BR: What partnerships have helped you move forward in this area?

MM: We partner with nonprofit Pet Sustainability Coalition to stay on top of pet-sustainability trends and gather ideas, especially related to recycling, environmental certifications and sustainability-related innovations.

We also partner with the National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education (NIAMRRE), giving our 70,000 Associates worldwide the ability to join the NIAMRRE exchange, an information-sharing platform with resources and insights on pharmaceutical stewardship and antimicrobial resistance.

In addition to regularly meeting with large veterinary industry groups, we present at veterinary conferences to share what we’re doing in the sustainability space, so other practices—big and small—can take our learnings and apply them in their own clinics.

We look forward to establishing more formal partnerships and working groups to make an even bigger impact for our planet profession-wide.

BR: From your perspective, are veterinarians and their teams ready to make a difference on the sustainability front?

MM: Research suggests that employees are actively choosing to work for employers that prioritize sustainability, which is consistent with the message we’re getting loud and clear from our Associates: environmental sustainability is near and dear to their hearts, and they’re ready to act.

The challenge—and what holds our industry back, to some degree—is the balance between delivering high-quality veterinary care in the moment while simultaneously prioritizing what’s best for the environment. For example, if you’re treating a pet and it’s an urgent case, you may not have time to separate your waste correctly.

So our responsibility as their employer and as a profession is to enable veterinary teams to quickly and easily do the right thing, without compromising the quality of patient care. It’s on us to ensure our systems, supplies and protocols are inherently sustainable behind the scenes, so veterinary teams don’t have to make choices on the fly when they’re focused on the pet.

BR: Is there anything else you’d like to address concerning Mars Veterinary Health’s sustainability efforts?

MM: Environmental sustainability is a top priority for us at Mars Veterinary Health, given we realize our efforts at scale directly impact the health and happiness of people and pets around the world. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made to date and there’s much more to be done. As a family-owned company, we get to think in generations, not quarters, and that’s exactly how we’re approaching sustainability across our organization—for the long term. We look forward to sharing more updates on the measurable impact of our sustainability efforts for years to come.


As the U.S. distribution arm of AmerisourceBergen Animal Health, MWI Animal Health sources and distributes pharmaceuticals, healthcare products and supplies for both the companion animal and livestock markets.


Julia Loew
Senior Vice President, Commercialization Services, Companion Animals, US, MWI Animal Health




Bowman Report: When and why did environmental sustainability become an area of focus for MWI Animal Health?

Julia Loew: With the health of animals so closely linked to the health of our planet, MWI Animal Health has always been conscious of operating in a manner that delivers value while protecting the environment. With our foundation in distribution and through our relationships with manufacturers, veterinary clinics, production animal operations and other stakeholders, we have the unique ability to encourage environmental sustainability up and down the supply chain.

Today, sustainability has become even more of a priority for MWI because our customers tell us it’s a priority for them. Our growing efforts to promote sustainable practices in the supply chain are in direct response to manufacturers voicing sustainability ambitions of their own. We know our veterinary practice customers also have concerns prompted by millennial pet owners’ expectations for their veterinary clinics to operate sustainably as well as their own need to be efficient, support their staff and improve their workflows. By implementing sustainable practices, we’re meeting the demands of these customers and helping to minimize the impact on both their workforce and the environment.

BR: What specific initiatives and practices has MWI implemented to reduce its environmental impact?

JL: In the realm of environmental sustainability, MWI is:

  • Encouraging order consolidation across the supply chain. We encourage manufacturers to ship their products to locations for redistribution, allowing us to consolidate orders and ship full truckloads to cut down on emissions. On a parallel path, we encourage customers to place orders fewer times per week, which not only helps with practice efficiency but also so our distribution center teams can pack orders more densely, using less packaging and ultimately cutting down on shipments and emissions.
  • Supporting innovative packaging and waste solutions. Our efforts in this category range from simple—like our recent switch to using biodegradable packing peanuts in fragile orders—to more sophisticated, like outfitting our auto packer system with custom-fit cartons and no dunnage or packaging waste and implementing a returnable tote delivery system for ambient and cold chain orders.
  • Using electric vans for certain shipments in our UK operations. Currently, we are exploring options to integrate electric vans into our U.S. operations in some capacity. 
  • Providing advanced technology solutions for livestock operations. Within our production animal-related technology and services, specifically through our Micro Technologies brand, we help livestock producers optimize animal production and reduce the resources needed in that process. By increasing the efficiency of feeding and caring for protein-producing livestock, we reduce the quantity of agricultural resources required.

Further, it’s important for us to continue expanding our ongoing initiatives, including our electric van fleets, auto packers and reusable tote pilots. For example, the pilot of our reusable tote—i.e., reusable packing crate boxes for product distribution—continues to expand. At this point it’s in its third proof of concept as we look to nationalize the program because we know the demand is there. When we talk with clients about the reusable tote program to help them cut down on shipping and packaging waste, their eyes truly light up.  

For us, when it comes to expanding our sustainably initiatives, it’s a when, not an if. Many opportunities remain where we can take waste in all its forms out of the process, be it physical waste or operational inefficiency.

BR: When deciding what veterinary products to make available as a distributor, does MWI consider sustainable sourcing of ingredients and materials in those products?

JL: Sustainability is a key consideration in MWI’s product selection process and an ongoing journey that we are committed to strengthening and expanding.

Sustainability is a key consideration in MWI’s product selection process and an ongoing journey that we are committed to strengthening and expanding.

We are actively working toward building more robust partnerships with suppliers who share our commitment to sustainable practices. This involves evaluating their sourcing methods, encouraging the use of eco-friendly materials and supporting ethical standards throughout the supply chain.

Our recent decisions to offer biodegradable medical gloves and pill vials from KVP are great examples of this, having been well-received by veterinarians and pet owners alike who are eager to embrace more sustainable options, particularly in single-use items.

In addition, we are continually evaluating ease of use for MWI’s product-selection process and to identify sustainable-conscious items.

BR: Are there any notable partnerships or collaborations that MWI has engaged in to address environmental sustainability?

JL: We work collaboratively with our human health side of the business, AmerisourceBergen, to share best practices in energy efficiency, emissions management, waste management and responsible packaging. This collaboration has enabled us not only to enhance MWI’s sustainability efforts but also to foster a culture of continuous improvement as we transparently track our global environmental sustainability progress with robust yearly reports.

Thanks to this reporting, we’re able to show how small changes, such as consolidating packaging and the number of orders, can yield sizeable results. For example, between May 2020 and March 2021, MWI used 91,515 fewer containers for its products through order consolidation practices.

This 19% reduction in packaging saved 146,424 lbs of cardboard, 1,245 trees and 315,161 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions from delivery vehicles. This 19% reduction in packaging saved 146,424 lbs of cardboard, 1,245 trees and 315,161 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions from delivery vehicles.

This 19% reduction in packaging saved 146,424 lbs of cardboard, 1,245 trees and 315,161 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions from delivery vehicles.

We also work very closely with our partners to help them achieve their own sustainability initiatives. In the case of one large pet health and technology company, we’ve started collaborating on ways to consolidate their orders so they receive fewer shipments from MWI each week, helping to reduce packaging waste and ease delivery efficiency.

BR: How does MWI engage with its employees, customers and the broader veterinary community to raise awareness and promote environmental stewardship?

JL: MWI takes a holistic approach when it comes to promoting environmental stewardship and sustainable practices. Beyond environmental impact, we communicate to customers that sustainable practices—specifically our order-consolidation practice—can contribute to workforce sustainability and employee wellness.

Many veterinary practices are small local businesses. For them time is of the essence—and time spent managing paperwork or unloading boxes from orders is time they could spend caring for animals. Further, we know many veterinary practices face workforce strains due to staffing shortages. By helping to improve operational efficiency—simplifying paperwork, expediting the process of unloading and stocking deliveries, and preventing the need for small practices to break down and dispose of large amounts of packaging waste—we can lessen the impact on veterinary practices and on their individual workers.

We also lead projects with our manufacturers to help integrate sustainable practices into the supply chain at every level. A great example of this is the reusable totes program I mentioned earlier, which we are actively piloting in three markets across the United States. We’ve also seen great efforts in the UK, which, in addition to reusable totes, has also begun to adopt electric vehicles for its delivery fleet. Through social media and our sales teams, we try to drive awareness about this and all the other sustainable options available.

We are constantly looking for new ideas—part of this is by listening to employees, and we look to our local distribution centers for inspiration. For example, a distribution center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, sourced biodegradable packaging materials to cut down on waste. It’s proven to be very successful, and we’re looking at how to expand it. It’s just one example, but it showcases how a local, employee-led initiative can have a real impact. We want to be at the forefront of innovative thinking in this space.

Ultimately, we try to encourage practices that drive better workflows in veterinary clinics. Our goal is to remove inefficiencies—operationally and in terms of waste—that cause more difficulty and strain for practices. No team wants to spend a whole day unpacking shipments, disposing of packaging boxes and coolers, and driving to a facility to remove excess waste when they could be doing the work that’s most meaningful to them: helping animals. That’s why this is such a priority for us.

BR: Anything else you’d like to address regarding MWI’s focus on sustainability and the health of the planet?

JL: MWI is engaged in an ongoing process to strengthen and expand its sustainability initiatives and to be a leader in innovation. We strive to be an example within the industry of improving sustainability through creative and collaborative solutions. This is very much an industry-wide initiative, and we are encouraged by the response we’ve seen from our customers. It’s our mission to improve the health and well-being of animals, and this is a space in which we want and are trying to be a leader. If we can play a role in ensuring that sustainability remains a strong focus for the industry as a whole, then we feel we are living up to that goal.

As the desire for sustainability and creating healthier futures in the animal health industry continues to grow, we’re here to help.


The world’s largest animal health company, Zoetis Inc. produces medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies for pets and livestock.


Andrea Nance
Global Head of Corporate Sustainability, Zoetis




BR: When and why did environmental sustainability become an area of focus for Zoetis?

Andrea Nance: While Zoetis has always operated with sustainability in mind, we formalized our commitments when we launched our Driven to Care long-term sustainability strategy in March 2021. Based on input from our stakeholders, including veterinary customers, our sustainability goals are focused in these areas:

  • Communities. We are partnering with and supporting colleagues and people who care for animals to take a localized approach to make a global impact.
  • Animals. We are applying our innovation expertise to solve sustainability challenges facing animals and people.
  • Planet. We are stewarding resources responsibly to minimize our impact as we deliver products and services that advance animal health.

We recently published our 2022 Sustainability Report, building on the Driven to Care pillars to demonstrate progress and commitment in crucial areas such as:

  • $7.4 million in corporate giving invested in communities and an additional $5.7 million distributed through Zoetis Foundation grants to support veterinarians and farmers
  • Continued progress toward colleague diversity aspirations, including increased representation of women at the director level and above globally from 32% in 2020 to 37% in 2022, aspiring to reach 40% by 2025
  • Approval for several livestock vaccines in additional markets, which support reducing the need to use antibiotics
  • Achievement of target to reduce energy intensity in manufacturing and R&D 5% by 2025, with a 13.5% reduction
  • Outline of a roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2030 and 31% of manufacturing sites operating with 100% renewable electricity.

BR: What specific initiatives and practices has Zoetis implemented to reduce its environmental impact?

AN: We are focused on minimizing our carbon footprint, including setting a target to become carbon-neutral in our own operations by 2030, rethinking our packaging to reduce its environmental footprint and improving the sustainability of all our locations. 

I’m proud that we have already achieved our goal to reduce energy intensity in our manufacturing sites by 5% by 2025. Thanks to numerous energy efficiency projects at our sites around the world, we’ve reduced our energy intensity—which is the energy used to produce a dollar of revenue—by 13.5% compared to our 2019 baseline. 

Our work is not done. We’ve mapped out our path to carbon neutrality, with workstreams focused on minimizing our sites’ emissions, reducing emissions from our fleet of vehicles, sourcing renewable electricity and purchasing carbon offsets when needed.

BR: Does Zoetis take into account sustainable sourcing of ingredients and materials in its product manufacturing choices?

AN: We are committed to improving our products’ environmental impact throughout their life cycle—from research and development to postconsumer waste management. This includes working to:

  • Improve our product design and manufacturing processes
  • Increase the use of green chemistry principles
  • Reduce emissions and source sustainable shipping packaging
  • Decrease energy intensity and increase renewable energy use in our operations.

We recognize that further action is needed to ensure our innovative, industry-leading solutions are delivered sustainably, and we have committed to integrate sustainability considerations into all new packaging designs. To help guide our packaging efforts, we formed a Packaging Council in 2020. This cross-functional team evaluates safety, quality, sustainability, cost and customer experience considerations for all new packaging designs. In 2022 we collaborated to create a sustainable packaging guidance document for suppliers to ensure that the materials delivered to Zoetis meet our requirements to make the most sustainably produced products. 

Examples of packaging improvements in the U.S. include transitioning Cerenia to a recycled paper dispensing pouch, reducing its packaging footprint by an estimated 55 tons per year, and removing cotton from our Rimadyl chewable products packaging (this was done in seven markets, including the U.S.), which reduces cotton usage by an estimated 6,000 lbs per year.

It’s important to remember that packaging is complex—we want to maintain product safety and quality and improve customer experience. Packaging material selection is often dictated by product safety and quality requirements. For example, some products can bind to plastic or glass or require colored glass to maintain protection from light. 

BR: Has Zoetis engaged in any notable partnerships or collaborations to address environmental sustainability?

AN: We are a member of several industry groups driving improvement in sustainability, including the American Chemical Society, Green Chemistry Institute, Pharmaceutical Roundtable and Sustainable Packaging Coalition. We’re also a member of the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative, which aims to drive excellence in safety, environmental and social outcomes across global pharmaceutical supply chains.

We also joined the RE100 initiative, which brings together hundreds of large, ambitious companies committed to 100% renewable electricity as part of our carbon neutrality goal and commitment to sourcing 100% renewable electricity by 2030. We plan to achieve these commitments by entering in power purchase agreements to procure renewable electricity in regions and markets where it’s available and through the installation of on-site renewable electricity at suitable locations. Further, we continue to monitor the renewable energy industry to understand new opportunities to help us meet our renewable electricity targets. 

BR: How does Zoetis engage with its employees, customers and the broader veterinary community to raise awareness and promote environmental stewardship?

AN: We know our customers and our colleagues care about the environment and more sustainable choices, and we want to support them. A great example of how much our colleagues care comes from Australia and New Zealand—our team in those countries developed a take-back program to work with veterinarians and keep plastic waste from our products out of landfills.

Our colleagues also care about the well-being of the veterinary profession, so in addition to our efforts to protect the environment, our sustainability commitments include supporting veterinary professionals. Education and well-being are critical areas we support.

  • The Zoetis Foundation contributed $2.5 million to veterinary scholarship programs in 2022, and Zoetis provided approximately $160,000 in additional funding in corporate contributions. Scholarships supported through the Zoetis Foundation include the AAVMC Veterinary Student Scholarship Program, which provides financial scholarships to second- and third-year veterinary students to address the issue of student debt while also working to foster diversity in the veterinary profession. In 2021 and 2022, the foundation supported more than 800 scholarships by providing $3.2 million in grants.
  • The Zoetis Foundation also provided a grant to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) through the Zoetis Foundation/AVMF Veterinary Technician Student Scholarship Program. 
  • In 2022 Zoetis launched Project WAG to create a positive impact on the lives of veterinary professionals and the future of veterinary medicine. This initiative strives to go beyond awareness of well-being challenges in the veterinary profession to provide easy access to resources and tools designed for self-care.
  • The Zoetis Foundation also has provided grants to the Shanti Project’s Veterinary Mental Health Initiative, which provides veterinarians with evidence-based, culturally competent, multilevel mental health services. Emphasizing the importance of well-being for veterinary healthcare teams and advancing solutions to address mental health challenges is fundamental to supporting veterinarians and sustaining a thriving profession for those who provide such critical care for our animals.  

BR: Anything else you’d like to address regarding Zoetis’s focus on sustainability and the health of the planet?

AN: Supporting our customers in achieving their sustainability goals is a top priority for us at Zoetis. We want to be veterinarians’ supplier of choice in this respect. I’d also like to highlight the role of innovation in achieving our collective sustainability goals. Our research and development efforts—to ultimately bring our customers innovative products that meet their clients’ and patients’ needs—support more sustainable pet care and livestock systems. A new HABRI study indicates that there is a measurable economic and health impact from owning pets, and together we can help pets live longer, healthier lives. The link between health impact and environmental impact is strong. 

Finally, I’d like to spotlight the importance of a One Health approach across human and veterinary medicine, understanding that healthy animals can help reduce the risk of zoonotic infectious diseases that can pass between animals and people. This is also important in the context of antimicrobial stewardship, and why we support veterinary involvement when antibiotics are used in animals.

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