Fat and bone collection services: Frequently asked questions

How does DAR PRO Solutions service grocers and supermarkets?

DAR PRO Solutions collects meat scraps, fat and bone, inedible meat by-products and expired meat product from grocery stores, butchers, meat processors and other retail foodservice establishments. Here are some of the more common questions our supermarket customers have asked over the years.

How much meat do people eat?

Most countries, particularly Western countries, have a heavy meat diet, although the type of meat consumed will vary (beef, pork, poultry, fish). Globally, 258 million metric tons of meat is produced annually, with an average of 75 pounds of meat consumed per person each year. In the U.S., the amount is significantly higher – almost 200 pounds per person, according to recent data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

How much of an animal is consumed?

Roughly 50-60% of an animal is consumed in Western cultures. The unconsumed fat, skin, bones and other inedible material is a significant amount and must be handled in a safe manner.  Our company processes all of this material into sustainable ingredients for food, feed and fuel that is used by people worldwide, every day.

What is meant by inedible meat and meat by-product?

Different cultures consider 'inedible meat' differently.  Eastern cultures leave little unconsumed from their mostly poultry or fish diets, whereas, in typical western cultures, only about 60% of a cow, chicken or pig is consumed. What is left after being sold as food or consumed, is considered meat by-product. This would include animal bones, fat, skin, blood, feathers, and internal organs.  All of this material has value, no matter what part of the world you may be in, and none should simply be discarded as waste material when it can provide biofuel or help feed livestock... or for a number of other uses.  Also included in inedible meats from grocers and retail foodservice would be meat products that have passed their expiration dates and can't be sold for human consumption. Recalled meats are collected from retailers also, but special pickups are made for such material as it can not be processed or used as feed ingredients.

How much inedible meat byproduct is generated in a year?

According to the National Renderers Association, in U.S. grocery stores alone, 1.92 billion pounds of meat scrap, fat, bone, expired meat products and used cooking oil each year is generated each year.  On a global scale, 258 million metric tons of meat (beef, poultry, swine) is produced annually for human consumption, which yields about 100 million metric tons of meat by-products that is not consumed. Our company, Darling Ingredients, processes about 10% of the world’s meat byproducts.

What do you do with animal fat, bones and the other inedible material left over?

In Western cultures, the inedible material is primarily repurposed into nutritional animal feed ingredients or feedstock for biofuel production. It also is processed into fatty acids, proteins, minerals, gelatin, collagen peptides, plasma, oils and more that is used a large variety of products used by businesses and households worldwide. Bones and fat can be cooked down into oils, fats, and protein meals that are critical to a healthy animal diet. The fats and oils are also used to produce biofuel, and can also be used to make cleansers, soaps, plastics, solvents, industrial coatings, fertilizers, and much more.  Feather meal can be used in animal diets, as can processed blood. Organic fertilizer can be produced from meat by-products. In food-grade facilities that are carefully monitored for regulatory compliance, select by-product from beef, hog and fish can be cooked down to provide gelatin and collagen peptides - used in a vast assortment of food, pharmaceutical, sports nutrition and cosmetic applications.  Insulin, hemoglobin are but two examples of pharmaceutical use for humans.

What is rendering?

Rendering is the process of converting animal byproducts (inedible beef, poultry, swine) into useable products (meat and bone meal, proteins, minerals, fats and oils, fatty acids, and more) using high heat that kills any pathogens. Rendering prevents the emission of methane, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that would be emitted by disposal methods such as landfill, composting, burial or incineration. Rendering is not only the ecologically safest method of handling meat byproducts, but is the only method that provides a functional, valuable, sustainable second use for these otherwise unusable materials.

Why can’t the meat scraps just be thrown out with the trash and landfilled?

The short answer is logistics – the U.S. would run out of available space within 4 years if all inedible meat material were landfilled, according to statistics from the National Renderers Association. While some in the foodservice industry may utilize landfills as a disposal method, a study in The Professional Animal Scientist reported that rendering offers the most sanitary and ecologically sustainable solution through the safe collection and processing of this inedible material. A single decomposing dairy cow releases 1.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide. By processing these meat byproducts, we avoid releasing methane and other greenhouse gases that are emitted when meat byproducts degrade. Processing the material also prevents pathogens from entering the environment, and repurposes the material for a new, value-added use.

We’re thinking of composting our kitchen waste to be environmentally conscious.

Composting is a viable disposal option and is preferable to discarding protein material into a landfill. However, this method could produce odors, attracting unwanted pests and rodents. It is also important to keep a proper meat versus plant balance for optimum compost decomposition. The compost process also releases some amounts of methane and other emissions, and can be a breeding ground for pathogens. Scientists have found that rendering this inedible meat byproduct material is the safest, most ecologically friendly, and sustainable means of handling these materials.

The diagram below, from the EPA website, illustrates the Food Recovery Hierarchy of preferences for handling surplus food. Rendering ("industrial solutions") is the most preferred method for dealing with product that is not consumed by people or animals.