Rendering: Recycling the Rest of the Animal
Industry generates more than $10B in annual economic activity
“The rendering industry generates more than $10 billion in annual economic activity and recycles the rest of the animal,” says Nancy Foster, president of the North American Renderers Association and Fats and Proteins Research Foundation, during her presentation at the International Rendering Symposium, held in conjunction with the 2020 International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta.
The North American Renderers Association and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association sponsored the program.
In her opening remarks, Foster explained the decision to change the Association’s name from the National Renderers Association to the North American Renderers Association (NARA), as well as addressed NARA’s mission.
“Our mission is to advocate for a sustainable food chain, public health and the environment through the production and marketing of our member’s products and services," she says.
Foster expressed that NARA’s focus is on sustainability and advocacy in both regulatory and legislative areas as well as new markets.
Anna Wilkinson, director of communications for NARA, spoke on the sustainability of rendering starting hundreds of years ago and citing the government’s American Fat Salvage program during WWII. Much of her presentation focused on the rendering industry’s ongoing contribution to sustainability; how rendering aids greatly in the reduction of food waste, returns water to the environment, upcycles animal leftovers into safe ingredients for hundreds of products, and increases the environmental sustainability of animal agriculture. Wilkinson also unveiled new data on the rendering industry’s operations in the U.S. and Canada, as well as rendered ingredients in pet food.
“The rendering industry is practically the definition of sustainability," says Wilkinson. "Renderers take the meat products we don’t consume (i.e. the “rest of the animal,” or in other words, “the meat we don’t eat”) and transforms them into new products with valuable uses, such as biodiesel and safe, nutritious pet food. I can’t think of a better definition of a sustainable practice; and one that greatly reduces food waste, since all that leftover meat and meat by-products would have been wasted - ending up in landfills and down the drain if it wasn’t for renderers. I am excited to help spread the word about rendering’s sustainability contribution and get people talking about it. Hopefully, we can add rendering to the sustainability conversation alongside topics like recycling. After all, renderers are the 'original recyclers.'"
“Rendering was green before green was cool,” says Tim Law, corporate quality assurance manager with Darling Ingredients, as part of his presentation on “Rendering – The Basics.”
He explained the basic rendering process and identification of potential hazards that need to be controlled in the rendering plant. Law also discussed the uses of rendered products, including feed for livestock, pet food and biofuels.
Dr. Annel Greene, professor at Clemson University, provided a research overview on animal co-products, remarking that the university has been seeking new non-feed applications for utilizing rendered animal co-products. She discussed projects that have been chosen for funding, including one on the use of free fatty acids and sulfur waste to create several new products, some of which include plastic polymers and tars for asphalt. Another project focuses on products that can be molded, have a self-healing ability and can be thermally recycled to be used as insulating tiles for roofs or floors.