How Used Cooking Oils & Meat Fats are Recycled
North America loves meat and fried foods. Unfortunately, preparing these delicious foods generate a lot of leftovers. The most visible form is plate waste – the leftover pot roast from Sunday evening that ends up in the garbage can. This type of waste can be addressed by meal planning, purchasing accurate quantities, using proper freezing methods, and preparing smaller portions. However, some "leftovers" aren’t quite so obvious. In a typical western diet, only 60% of the cow, chicken, or pig is consumed. The remaining 40% consists of bones, feathers, organs, skin, blood, and fat.
In order to prevent decomposition, which can release harmful greenhouse gases and pathogens, these materials must be disposed of or recycled in a timely fashion. That’s where we come in!
DAR PRO Solutions collects meat scraps and used cooking oil that restaurants, supermarkets, butchers, and processing plants can’t use. We transform this material into sustainable ingredients that are used to create biofuels, animal food, and even household items like soap, solvents, plastics, and more. Here’s how we do it, also illustrated in our infographic below:
STEP 1. Collect
North America recycles approximately 56 billion pounds of inedible meat by-products and used cooking oil each year. Of this total, 2.3 billion pounds of fat, meat, and bone come from retail butchers and supermarkets. 4 billion pounds of used cooking oil are collected from restaurants and foodservice establishments, and the remaining 49.7 billion pounds are from growers and meat processing plants. If all of this material were put into a landfill, the country would be out of free space in less than 4 years. Instead, businesses like DAR PRO Solutions collect these ‘unusable’ materials and transform them into valuable ingredients. This process is known as rendering.
Step 2. Process
The primary purpose of the rendering process is to create sustainable ingredients that can be used in a variety of products. By cooking down meat scraps, bone, fat, and cooking oil, we can produce proteins, meals, fats, and oils that can be used to make everything from biofuel to hand sanitizer. Aside from upcycling valuable organic material, the rendering process also has some positive effects on the environment.
If buried, landfilled or composted, organic matter can release harmful greenhouse gases and encourage the growth of toxic pathogens. The rendering process virtually eliminates these dangers by repurposing the carbon and other bio-matter. As a matter of fact, rendering is so effective that the EPA estimates that rendering plants in North America reduce carbon emissions by approximately 12 million cars per year. In addition, our rendering plants are net water producers. After dehydrating the raw materials and removing contaminants, the excess water can be transferred to local water treatment facilities for further filtration. Our operations produce more water than they use.
Step 3. Reuse
We reuse virtually 100% of the material we collect from our customers. Almost all of the used cooking is used to produce biofuel, while the meat scraps, fat and bone are used to create animal food, household goods, and more biofuel.
Darling Ingredients (our parent company) owns and operates 3 biofuel production facilities in North America. Each year, we transform 11% of the animal fats and used cooking oil generated in the U.S. into 15.7 million gallons of biodiesel and 160 million gallons of renewable diesel. In May of 2018, we’ll be expanding our renewable diesel facility, and this number will increase to 20% of the national total.
Biofuel can be broken down into two categories: biodiesel and renewable diesel. Both of these biofuels are made from the above feedstock, but with different processes. The production of biofuel also creates several useful co-products. Biodiesel production generates glycerin for soap, lotion, and shampoo, while the renewable diesel process creates renewable butane and propane, and naphtha, a solvent used in paint thinner, varnish, and plastic. Additionally, when compared with petroleum diesel, biofuels reduce carbon emissions by up to 85%.
The inedible meat, fat and bone not used for biofuel is processed into sustainable ingredients such as protein meals, bone meal, blood meal, minerals, oils and fatty acids that are used to produce animal feed, pet food, our own NatureSafe organic fertilizer and numerous other household and commercial products.
Darling Ingredients’ edible divisions (Rousselot, Peptan, and Sonac, located primarily in Europe, Asia and South America) operate in independent, state-of-the-art, food-grade facilities dedicated to producing gelatin, collagen peptides, hemoglobin, and bone ash. These ingredients have a wide variety of uses in the food, pharmaceutical, and health industries worldwide.
If you’ve been thinking about using sustainable solutions for your store’s needs, consider giving us a call. DAR PRO Solutions will collect your used cooking oil or meat scraps and put them to a new use. Rendering has tremendous benefits for the environment and providing for the needs of a growing population, but we can’t do our job alone.