Mars said that the project would result in energy cost savings of $600,000 a year for the company.
The sweet and pet food manufacturer is one of 445 companies that have completed waste-to-energy projects as part of the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Landfill Methane Outreach Programme (LMOP), which began in 1994.
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 gas is extracted from landfills using a series of wells and a blower/flare system. It is then directed to a central point where it can be processed, treated and used to generate electricity or replace fossil fuels in manufacturing operations.
"The project is all about producing a sustainable source of clean, renewable energy. We are pleased to be working with Mars and will continue to foster this kind of innovation," said the EPA.
Due to rising commodity and energy costs, a growing number of manufacturers are looking to alternative energy sources to drive greater cost efficiency in their operations and meet targets to cut carbon emissions.
July of this year will see Frito Lay in California utilizing solar energy to fuel its SunChips manufacturing line.
Around 58,000 square feet of solar concentrators will be spread over four acres and the company said that it expects the concentrators to eventually provide all of the energy required for its production line, which uses about 14.6 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) a year.
Waste to fuel conversion
Some US manufacturers are taking another approach to reducing their carbon footprint by converting their animal and vegetable waste into biofuels.
JBS Swift & Co, owned by Brazil's JBS, announced in December 2007 that its meat packing plant in Nebraska will turn beef waste into biogas to be burned at the facility.
The biogas production will be managed by Microgy, a subsidiary of renewable energy firm Environmental Power, which will build and operate the necessary equipment. Microgy holds an exclusive license in North America for use of a proprietary anaerobic digestion technology that can extract methane gas from animal and other wastes to generate energy.
Rich Kessel, president and CEO of Environmental Power, said the meat processing industry is an important market for the firm's technology to produce renewable biogas.
Kraft Foods said that it is looking at its business through a sustainable lens to identify ideas for positive change that will help it grow its top line and reduce costs.
"We are working to reduce the amount of waste we produce, and with the waste we do create, we are looking for more sustainable ways of handling it. We have programs in place designed to reduce overall waste volume, minimize its potential impact and even turn waste into useful energy," a spokesperson for Kraft told FoodProductionDaily.com
The company said that its cheese manufacturing facilities in Lowville and Campbell in New York are taking the cheese by-product, whey, and are turning it into alternative energy. "Converting the whey into methane will help replace more than a third of the facilities' natural gas needs," added the spokesperson.
The company also said that its manufacturing facilities in Hemelingen and Elmshorn in Germany are incinerating coffee grounds to produce energy and improve efficiency.
Ron Pernick, co-founder of Clean Edge, a clean-tech consultancy firm based in San Francisco, said that utilization of waste by food processors in this way is an important development in terms of the future of biofuels: "At present, our reliance on food crops such as corn and soybeans isn't economical or sustainable."