Thankful for Rendering’s Sustainable Contributions (All Around Us)

For those who celebrate the holiday season this year, it’s bound to be different.  Whether you enjoy Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and even the Winter Solstice, it’s traditionally a time to gather with family and friends.  COVID-19 has transformed celebrations for many of us by affecting who we spend time with and what we can do. This year has been challenging for all of us in some way or another, to be sure.

Perhaps you weren’t able to travel to see family. Or worse yet, maybe you lost someone from COVID-19. And if that’s the case, our thoughts are with you at this unthinkably difficult time.

But for those of us still able to sit down and celebrate (perhaps with a bit of downsizing) in the holiday season, consider adding rendering to your list of reasons to give thanks.

Why, you ask?

Well, rendering makes it possible and comfortable to live in a sustainable way in the world all around us, even as you sit down at the dinner table, play with children or grandchildren, or pet your dog or cat.

Picture this…

It’s Thanksgiving and the sun is starting to go down, so you light the candles on the dining room table At its start, rendering was important for candle making, done by cooking animal fat in a kettle over an open fire.  Today, of course the process is modern and mechanized but animals fats are still used to make candles.


Then, before you begin heaping food on your plates, you remember you still need to feed your dog, so you pour some kibble into the bowl and give him a soft pat on the head and a scratch behind the ear … Our pets and other animals crave and need the safe, nutrient-rich rendered proteins, fats and minerals in pet food. To learn more about rendering and pet food, read these results from our recent joint pet food study with The Pet Food Institute and the American Feed Industry Association.


Next, while your kids set the table you sit down with your grandchildren and join them for some coloring with their crayons … Yes, even crayons include rendered material, most often beef tallow.


Then, you finally gather around the table to eat, and you hope you can enjoy the delicious food without letting some of it go to waste.  You try not to think of all the wasted food there must be after Thanksgiving from grocery stores and restaurants (more so in years when going out to eat is more common, but still) Renderers offer a food waste solution since they collect and recycle unused meats from groceries and used cooking oil from restaurants into clean ingredients for hundreds of new products, ranging from biodiesel, to tires, to fertilizer.


After enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, you begin to clear the plates and reach for soap to wash the dishesIn addition to candles, soap was the other main item made centuries ago from rendered ingredients. Most soaps today still include rendered materials such as tallow.


Finally, as you reflect on the day, you look out the window to see someone setting off fireworks to celebrate Yes, even fireworks and explosives contain essential fatty acids from rendered fats.


So, as you can see, during the whole day you may easily have been surrounded by items that make the world we live in a more sustainable place because of rendering.

Renderers make sustainable ingredients for many products we use daily by re-purposing and upcycling leftover meat (parts of the animal we don’t eat), unsold meat, and even by recycling cooking oil used by restaurants to fry food such as those ever-popular french fries. Rendering ensures nothing goes to waste.  That’s why rendering is designated as an essential industry in the nation’s critical infrastructure during COVID-19.

We hope you’ll join us in giving thanks that safe, sustainable products made with rendered materials surround us every day, making our lives and the world we live in a more sustainable place. And for that we are truly thankful.

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.