Mars Snack Foods Taps Landfill Gas for Energy

Mars Snack Foods Taps Landfill Gas for Energy

The Mars snack food plant flipped the switch this week on a project that will tap energy generated from landfill gas to power its operations.

It is the second food manufacturer in recent months to announce the decision to use renewable energy to power operations. A Frito-Lay plant in California, for example, has begun making SunChips using solar energy.

For Mars’ Waco plant, methane gas from the local landfill will create steam from two furnaces for the facility, saving the company $600,000 a year in energy costs. The project is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program, which has brought about 445 landfill gas project online between 1994 and December.

“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 U.S. President Todd Lachman. “And the story today is not simply about Mars alone. It is a story of deep commitment and concern by multiple partners at every level in government in Texas.

The state of Texas boasts 21 operational landfill-to-energy projects in operation. And there will likely be more on the way: the five-state area that comprises the EPA’s Region 6 has created a pilot program that to link waste produers with end users through the identification of ideal landfill gas-to-energy projects. The Waste-to-Energy Strategic Planning Tool will be expanded on a national scale.

Privately-held Mars produces iconic candy, pet food and snacks, including M&M’s, Snickers, Uncle Ben’s and Whiskas. According to its website, the company reduced landfill waste at a plant in Victoria, Australia, by 90 percent by diverting it for piglet feed at local farms.