The challenge: ‘Sustainable in a Generation’
As a global food producer, Mars acts as a standard bearer for sustainability. Minimizing the environmental impact of its activities is therefore an important objective. Not for nothing is this one of the three core targets in the company’s ‘Sustainable in a Generation’ plan. Within this context, Mars had the ambition of substantially reducing its water- and energy-usage.
Mars Netherlands uses a large amount of water in the production of its chocolate products. Following the production process it aims to purify the water used during production, so that it can be re-used. Previously, 30% of the water that remained after this purification was re-usable. This was therefore an area in which Mars Netherlands could make real progress. But was it possible to purify all that residual water in such a way that the water would be of the same quality as before the process? This was the question that Mars Netherlands put to Royal HaskoningDHV.
Remove the glucose – safeguard the taste
Royal HaskoningDHV analyzed the chocolate production process at Mars Netherlands using its own WaterScan technology. WaterScan provides unrique clarity and insight into the potential for water re-use, the first step towards closing the water cycle. As a resul, Royal HaskoningDHV was able to get a clear view of the balance between water and residues across the entire production process. The conclusion? That the residual water contained a large amount of glucose. By filtering the glucose out of the water, Mars could re-use a substantial amount of the water.
But how could we ensure the recovered water would not have a negative influence on the product quality and taste? Royal HaskoningDHV carried out numerous tests. The outcome was a decision to filter the water using an evaporator, a method that would not alter the product taste in any way. Moreover, as specialists in industrial energy-saving, Royal HaskoningDHV identified an opportunity to make the process more energy efficient. The energy used by the evaporator could be recovered in the form of heating.
Halving the Water Footprint
With the purification method developed by Royal HaskoningDHV, Mars Netherlands was able to recover and re-use around 80% of the water used in its chocolate production. Previously it had only recovered 30%. Thus the company reduced its Water Footprint for this production process by 50%. In addition, Mars Netherlands saved energy because the separation of the glucose using the evaporator was energy neutral. All the energy used is captured and re-used in the production.
The new filtering method has zero effect on the water quality or product taste. This is essential for an A-brand supplier such as Mars, for whom product quality is always paramount. Above all, the new purification method delivers considerable savings in terms of water- and energy-costs. It is anticipated that the new method and the associated evaporator will payback in two to three years.
Worldwide water security
The new purification method will enable Mars to make a sustainability impact not only in the Netherlands, but worldwide. That’s because method developed by Royal HaskoningDHV can be applied to every location where Mars makes chocolate bars. This will be especially valuable in regions where clean water is less available than in the Netherlands. Mars currently plans to install the same water purification solution at its large chocolate production facility in the UK,. and hopes to do the same in countries such as Qutar, Mexico and China.
Mars is a global producer of food and drinks. Along with consumer-focused chooclate products such as Mars, Twix and M&M, it also supplies pet foods under brands including Pedigree, Royal Canin and Sheeba. At Veghel in the Netherlands, Mars operates the world’s largest chocolate bar production facility. As such, Mars Netherlands is at the forefront of the company’s global effort to innovate sustainable production processes.
Sustainable in a Generation: CEO and President of Mars, Grant F Reid introduces the Mars “Sustainable in a Generation Plan.” This plan includes a set of far-reaching goals and ambitions underpinned by science and a determination to drive impact throughout the extended supply chain. The plan focuses on areas where we can impact change on some of the world’s biggest problems, as defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. #GenerationForChange.
How can we re-use more of the water used in our chocolate production process?
A new purification method based on WaterScan and an evaporator.
- 80% of the water is re-usable
- Energy neutral glucose filtering process
- ROI in 2-3 years
- Applicable to production locations worldwide