Why Rendering is so #Sustainable

When you think of Earth Day you probably think of #Sustainabilty, right? But do you think of rendering?

In honor of April as Earth Month and the 50th anniversary of #EarthDay, we invite you to learn why rendering is one of the most sustainable practices to avoid food waste and recycle leftovers into fresh ingredients for new products.

First, let’s begin with a definition of rendering.

Render, from the French verb rendre, meaning “to give back.”

And really, that’s what we mean when we say, “Rendering is Recycling.”

Rendering is sustainable, because we are giving back – in the form of high-value new rendered goods and giving resources back to the environment.

That’s a little abstract, but rendering is real and essential every day.  Let’s get to the bones of it (pun intended) and really break down what rendering is, why we need it, and why it is so sustainable.

Roughly 50% of a cow, hog, chicken, or turkey is considered inedible by Americans. Rendering reclaims these scraps and transforms them into ingredients for countless new products, saving landfill space, and recycling 99% of this unwanted material into valuable new ingredients from resources that would otherwise be wasted.

So, rendering is really the “Original Recycling” – but instead of recycling water bottles into plastic fibers, or steel cans into car parts, rendering recycles unutilized meat, fat, and bone into things like nutritious pet food and biofuels.

More than 62 billion pounds of renderable raw materials are produced in the U.S. and Canada each year from farms, feedlots and slaughter facilities for cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens and turkey…that’s enough to fill 15 Dallas Cowboys stadiums-PER YEAR.

Rather than wasting these meat leftovers through other disposal methods, renderers recycle them into 19 billion pounds of fat, oil and protein products, that are used to create new, rendered (recycled) goods.

By reclaiming otherwise discarded meat and poultry leftovers, renderers make our food production footprint smaller

“Ok”, I hear you say, “it sounds like rendering is sustainable, but in what ways specifically?”

So glad you asked.

How Is Rendering Sustainable?

Environmental Protection From Rendering

Rendering protects the environment from the high greenhouse gas emissions that other disposal methods can produce.

  • Rendering reduces energy and water consumption.


  • Rendering minimizes environmental impacts (like climate change) of animal agriculture.


  • Rendering reduces its footprint by using efficient, modern trucking fleets and computer-controlled cookers.


Water Reclamation From Rendering

Water reclamation rendering methods reclaim and protect valuable water that would otherwise be wasted or contaminated.

  • Billions of gallons of water are reclaimed during the rendering process, and that water meets federal, state, and local safety standards when returned to rivers and streams.


  • 7 billion gallons of water from the rendering process is naturally released back into the environment through (evaporation) or returned as clean water to streams and rivers….That’s enough water to fill 5,604 Olympic swimming pools!


  • Rendering helps improve water quality too – renderer pickup of used cooking grease and oil from restaurants saves municipal sewer and wastewater systems from becoming clogged. This helps prevent millions of dollars in damage, repairs and fouled and contaminated water quality from broken sewer lines and sewage back up.


Food Waste Reduction From Rendering

By reclaiming otherwise discarded meat leftovers, renderers make our food production footprint smaller.

  • We feed and grow the next generation of food by “recycling” unwanted meat into animal food and fertilizer.


    • Grocery store leftovers would be a huge contributor to food waste, but renderers pick up those meat leftovers too.


  • From Fries to Fuel: Renderers recycle billions of pounds of used cooking oil from food items like french fries into biodiesel, renewable diesel, and ingredients for pet food and animal feed.


Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction From Rendering

As mentioned above, rendering reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs).

  • Rendering reduces GHG emissions by 72% and fossil fuel use by 80%, when compared to petroleum diesel.


  • An average rendering plant sequesters 5 times more GHG emissions from the environment (such as carbon dioxide, methane) than it emits. Some even save more.


  • Rendering avoids at least 90% of the potential GHG emissions compared with industrial composting.


  • Rendering is the GHG equivalent of removing 18.5 million cars off the road each year.


Sustainable Pet Food From Rendered Products

Rendered protein ingredients that pet food manufacturers use to make pet food are highly sustainable.

  • All animals, even household pets, naturally crave parts of an animal that humans prefer not to eat, like organ meats and fat, due to their high nutrient content.


  • The unwanted leftovers used to produce rendered end products provide essential nutrition for our pets’ food since they contain valuable fats and proteins filled with vitamins and minerals that animals need for the best possible health and nutrition.


  • Use of rendered products in pet food significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the food we feed our dogs, cats, and other pets and helps make it highly sustainable.


  • Pet food made with rendered products is SAFE as well as sustainable due to strict safety guidelines at rendering plants. Learn more about pet food and animal feed safety here.


We wish you all a #HappyEarthMonth and hope we inspire you to spread the word on the sustainable benefits of agricultural rendering.

Learn more at nara.org/sustainability/.


Contact Us To Learn More

The North American Renderers Association (NARA) is an Equal Opportunity Employer. It does not discriminate in the terms and conditions of employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other factor prohibited by law.

As a participant in USDA programs, we share the commitment to comply with all federal, state and local civil rights laws and those of the USDA. More about this commitment is available on the USDA website page here.