On July 15th, President, and CEO of the North American Renderers Association (NARA), Kent Swisher, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on the sustainability benefits of rendering. Swisher was one of four witnesses testifying and the sole representative of the agriculture sector. He was joined by Dana Gunders, Executive Director, ReFED, Dr. Melinda Cep, Vice President for Natural Solutions and Working Lands, National Audubon Society, and Elly Brown, Co-Executive Director, San Diego Food System Alliance.
The hearing, “Climate Smart from Farm to Fork: Building an Affordable and Resilient Food Supply Chain,” covered topics that renderers and those in the rendering industry have long been eager to discuss, as the recognition of agriculture as a key part of the climate change solution continues to grow.
In his testimony, Swisher described rendering as “an essential pathway in creating a sustainable food system.” Each year, renderers recycle a huge volume – more than 56 billion pounds – of meat and bone leftovers from livestock and poultry farming, meat processing, supermarkets, meat lockers, and restaurants. By doing so, rendering prevents alternative disposal methods which lead to unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
Swisher explained that “Rendering is an important and critical part of the solution to reducing food waste – and one that many do not know of or talk about when having the sustainability conversation. It’s a solution that directly addresses food waste worldwide by finding practical uses for a wide range of meat products, used cooking oil, and other food materials consumers consider inedible. Rendering recycles and reuses this material to create nutritious pet food, animal and aquaculture feed, biodiesel, and countless other useful products. By reclaiming and upcycling these products, rendering makes our food footprint smaller.”
In his testimony Swisher reiterated much of the above information on rendering, adding that “the rendering industry is an essential pathway in creating a sustainable food system. Each year, renderers recycle a huge volume – more than 56 billion pounds – of meat and bone leftovers from livestock and poultry farming, meat processing, supermarkets, meat lockers, and restaurants.”
Swisher explained, “Rendering prevents alternative disposal methods which lead to unnecessary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In fact, an average rendering plant sequesters five times more greenhouse gas emissions from the environment than it emits. If not for rendering, the nationwide capacity of available landfill space would be full in only four years. And if by-products were disposed of in landfills, during decomposition they would emit large volumes of greenhouse gases detrimental to air quality and runoff could threaten surface water quality.”
He went on to note that “Renderers are early adopters of a resilient, bio-based solution to reclaim and upcycle food waste. We are an essential element to the Select Committee’s goal of achieving substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis. Rendering is an important and critical part of the solution to reducing food waste — and one that many do not know of or talk about when having the sustainability conversation. It’s a solution that directly addresses food waste worldwide by finding practical uses for a wide range of meat products, used cooking oil, and other food materials consumers consider inedible. Rendering recycles and reuses this material to create nutritious pet food, animal and aquaculture feed, biodiesel, and countless other useful products – making rendering one of the most sustainable ways to reduce food waste. By reclaiming and upcycling otherwise discarded meat leftovers, renderers make our food production footprint smaller.”
Swisher continued, commenting that “NARA supports a level playing field among recyclers to prevent unfair market advantage and unequal competition for animal by-products. Renderers understand the need to fairly compete for raw material inputs but not against companies receiving government financial incentives providing them with added advantage. Federal support should not divert leftover meat, bones, other animal by-products from traditional renderers to other recyclers. Moreover, the livestock, poultry and pet food industries need the essential protein and nutrients provided by rendered animal proteins. Renderers want to be able continue supplying these important customers with an ample and competitively priced supply of animal feed and pet food.”
In closing, Swisher stated that “NARA looks forward to being a part of the discussion as your committee considers future legislative initiatives. We would appreciate your recognition of the important role of rendering in sustainability and reducing carbon emissions. The rendering industry respectfully recommends that any legislative effort adequately recognize the early leaders in GHG reduction in order to avoid unintended consequences in the future.”
Reaction to Swisher’s testimony was largely positive. Members largely conveyed their appreciation for the rendering industry and acknowledged the integral part it plays in working towards a climate change solution. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA-01) spoke in strong support of the industry and highlighted that “renderers play an important role in the sustainability of the agriculture industry,” by preventing waste and repurposing items that are commonly perceived as unusable. Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV-03) reinforced these sentiments as a bison farmer with 28 years of experience, emphasizing the importance of using every part of the animal. Other members agreed, with Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) and Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) speaking particularly to how limiting food waste could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Read the press release HERE
Read Swisher’s testimony HERE