Mars Wrigley Confectionery, the world's leading manufacturer of chocolate, chewing gum, mints and fruity confections, has achieved energy and CO2 reduction with GEA’s heat pump solution at its facility in Veghel, the Netherlands — one of the largest chocolate factories in the world. The heat pump installation reduces the chocolate factory’s carbon footprint and contributes to the achievement of Mars’ stated sustainability goals.

The customer challenge

Chocolate bar

Mars’ Sustainable in a Generation Plan addresses key areas of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The company’s vision focuses on Healthy Planet, Thriving People and Nourishing Wellbeing. As a step along the way toward a sustainable future, Mars has been seeking to reduce its carbon footprint and its use of natural resources for its production facilities. One of the key focuses is to make its production process more energy efficient.

The GEA solution

GEA, who has already installed the refrigeration plant for this factory, was contacted by Mars to discuss possible solutions to achieve further energy efficiency and CO2 reduction. After analyzing energy-saving and energy-management opportunities at the facility, it was determined that installing heat pump systems would significantly enhance the energy efficiency of Mars’ overall process and support their commitment to a healthy planet.  

The customized GEA heat pump solution, which is based on the latest GEA V HP reciprocating (also known as piston) compressors, makes it possible to extract and boost what is otherwise unusable low-temperature heat from the refrigeration units, which is then used to heat water. Heat taken from the refrigeration units and passed through a heat exchanger can heat water up to 63°C. This water is then channeled through the factory’s specially installed rooftop warm water piping network, from where it can be sent to various processes and uses within the plant, for example, chocolate and syrup storage, and air-handling units. 

The result

At Mars’ Veghel site, GEA’s innovative heat pump solution has reduced total energy consumption across the site by 6% and contributes to a reduction of 1,000,000 m3 of natural gas per year, equivalent to a reduction of more than 1,000 t CO2 per year, or more than 1,800 t CO2 per year if green electricity is applied.   

Mars says that is equivalent to the combined annual energy consumption of about 625 households. The firm estimates that over the course of just one year, the amount of heat recycled using the heat pump technology allows Mars’ Veghel site to save about 26 terajoules in gas. 

Moving forward

Mars plans to install heat pumps at other facilities across the globe such as China, Mexico and Egypt. Heat recycling is key to the firm’s drive to become fully energy neutral by 2040, which is a major goal of its Sustainable in a Generation Plan, through which Mars is working to become fully sustainable within a generation, or 30 years. This includes achieving carbon dioxide neutrality, recycling all waste and discharging only completely cleaned process water. Effectively, each Mars factory is challenged by management to reduce energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, waste production and water consumption each year.