Candy Manufacturer Converts Garbage Gas to Sweets

DALLAS, Texas, May 18, 2008 (ENS) – The Mars Snackfood U.S. plant in Waco, Texas has started using landfill gas – methane – to cook some of the world’s best known chocolate snacks. The venture is expected to cut both the company’s energy costs and the release of climate warming greenhouse gases into the environment.

Mars officials this week flipped the switch on their first landfill gas project. They are piping in the methane generated by the garbage at the Waco Regional Landfill to replace natural gas fueling two furnaces that create steam for the plant’s candy-making operations.

Mars Snackfood produces the well known brands MILKY WAY®, SNICKERS® and MARS® Bars, M&M’S® and SKITTLES® among other products.

Mars Snackfood’s signature candy bar
(Photo courtesy Mars Snackfood)

“More than being a decision about the bottom line, this project is about taking responsibility for the future – for our business, for our Associates and their children, for our community, and definitely for our environment,” said MARS Snackfood US President Todd Lachman.

Methane, a primary component of landfill gas, is a greenhouse gas over 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

“The story today is not simply about Mars alone,” Lachman said. “It is a story of deep commitment and concern by multiple partners at every level in government in Texas.”

He commended the City of Waco, the County of McLennan and the EPA, “for their visionary leadership and dedication to a sustainable future for all.”

“Turning waste into energy is a smart strategy for business and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard Greene. “EPA is pleased to be working with partners like Mars Snackfood on innovative projects like this one that deliver clean, renewable sources of energy.”

In addition to saving the company $600,000 a year in energy costs, the project will reduce more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which has the same environmental impact of avoiding the emissions of 1,900 cars, the EPA says.

Mars Snackfood joins a growing list of companies to complete waste-to-energy projects as part of EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program. There are currently 21 operational projects in Texas and a total of 34 throughout the five-state area that makes up EPA Region 6, Greene said.

To foster more development of waste-to-energy resources, EPA Region 6 has developed a pilot Waste-to-Energy Strategic Geographic Planning tool that is designed to link waste producers with end users by identifying optimum locations for such projects.

The region is currently working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to expand the pilot to a national scale.

The voluntary technical assistance and partnership program helps businesses and communities reduce methane emissions from landfills by encouraging the recovery and use of landfill gas as a renewable energy source.

Internationally, the program develops landfill methane reduction projects through the international Methane to Markets Partnership. Since 1994, the EPA says the program has assisted in developing more than 330 landfill gas projects in the United States, reducing methane emissions by over 24 million metric tons of carbon equivalent.

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