Rendering has a major role to play in a sustainable food chain and economy. The process itself leads to the safe recovery of animal by-products that might otherwise need to be disposed of. The products of rendering are used both as resources in their own right and as substitutes for fossil fuels. Both of these outlets reduce the reliance on virgin materials and increase sustainability.
Rendered Product Uses
rendered oils and fats in the chemical industry displaces oils and fats manufactured from petroleum or other fossil fuels resources
There are many markets for the products of rendering where the use of rendered products reduces the reliance on virgin materials. This is in addition to the use of rendered products as sustainable fuels to replace fossil fuels (see below). Some of the rendering product uses are
- OLEOCHEMICALS - the use of rendered oils and fats in the chemical industry displaces oils and fats manufactured from petroleum or other fossil fuels resources. It also reduces the reliance on similar fats and oils from plant crops. This latter is an important substitution in a world of increasing population and food requirements. Without the use of rendered products there would be more planting of crops to generate raw materials (and also to produce biofuels); replacing food crops with crops to produce raw materials for industry and/or fuel crops leads to less availability of food resources and an increase in price for those resources. It is almost inevitable that these impacts would be borne hardest by less developed and less prosperous countries and populations.
- FERTILISERS - rendered products can be used as organic fertilisers and soil improvers. Technically they offer a range of nutrients and usually release these in a slow manner that reduces elutriation and the build-up of nutrients in soils and water systems (a cause of eutrophication damage to lakes). Using rendered products in this way reduces the need to manufacture and use artificial, chemically-derived fertilisers.
The use of biofuels in place of fossil fuels is seen as a way of reducing emissions of CO2
In response to fears about climate change and the impact of greenhouse gases there is an increasing drive towards the use of renewable energy resources (EU 20% renewable by 2020 ). Whilst some of this can be taken up by the use of renewable energy systems (wind, tidal and solar) there is also an increased reliance on biofuels.
Rendered products can be used directly as biofuels in their own right and oils and tallows can also be used in the production of biodiesel. The use of biofuels in place of fossil fuels is seen as a way of reducing emissions of CO2. However, being produced from food industry by-products rendered products have some advantages over crops grown specifically for fuel:
- 1. Simple economics in the law of supply and demand suggests that increased demand for a resource will lead to price rises. Where a crop is capable of use for both food and fuel then increasing demand for its fuel use will push up the price for both uses. This effect is already apparent in vegetable oil markets where prices for materials such as soya bean oil have risen markedly in recent years.
- 2. Land set aside for the production of fuel crops is no longer available for the production of food.
- 3. The preparation of land for fuel crops can lead to environmental degradation and habitat loss. An example of this can be seen in some practices for the production of palm oil, where rainforest is removed to allow planting of non-native species. Not only does this lead to the replacement of a diverse range of native species with a mono-culture crop it leads to habitat loss for indigenous animals such as the orangutan. (http://www.wwf.org.uk/core/wildlife).
Already in the UK rendered products are used as biofuels in many applications (listed below). This range of uses is expected to increase in the coming years. In recognition of the importance of the use of rendered products the UKRA has adopted a commitment that none of its members will send rendered products to landfill from 2010.
Uses of rendered products as biofuels
- Production of biodiesel
- Replacement fuel oil in industrial boilers
- Supplementary fuel in power stations
- Coal replacement in cement kilns
- Use in dedicated renewable energy power stations