Rendered products have supplied the nutritional needs of farmed livestock and domestic (pet) animals for over 100 years. The nutritional characteristics of animal protein meals and fats make them highly sought-after sources of amino acids, energy, and fatty acids. Modern process techniques and formulation programmes ensure that animal proteins and fats can be used to meet the complex demands for specific nutrients that may be needed by specific species of livestock, such as pigs, poultry, and aquatic animals, or by type, breed, or age of domestic animals.
Renderers can be considered sustainable in three areas: economic, social, and environmental. Environmental sustainability is especially clear as rendering requires a high level of energy input to operate and renewable fuels used for both heat and electricity can supplement fossil fuels. Rendering may be described as a truly sustainable industry because many renderers are able to supply renewable biofuels from other processes such as the rendering of non-feed use animal by-products.
Rendered fats and oils, including Used Cooking Oils (UCO) may be used in two primary ways as sources of biofuel. First as a direct substitute for fossil fuel sources such as oil and gas used in steam raising boilers or oxidisers. Second as the main ingredient in fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) types of biodiesel that may be used in road and marine vehicles. In both situations, rendered fats and oils can play an important role in achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels. An even more welcome benefit is that the use of such materials does not influence food policy as these materials are never intended for human consumption.
The many uses of rendered products - mainly rendered fats - in industrial applications are well known, starting with tallow candles, hard soaps, and as components in lubricants, plastics, and rubber-based products such as tyres. Not so well known are the uses of rendered fat derivatives in consumer products such as cosmetics, paints, polishes, and cleaning products.
Rendering is a process that ensures a high standard of biosecurity for the livestock industry by the efficient stabilisation and sterilisation of biodegradable and microbiologically contaminated animal by-products. Renderers are able to achieve high standards of biosecurity by operating their processes to internationally agreed sanitary standards.
Renderers protect the environment in several ways. First, biological or environmental hazards are prevented by the prompt processing of animal by-products. Second, by processing the raw materials in specialised rendering plants, potentially polluting materials can be captured and treated so as to prevent contamination of air, water, and soil.