Renderers speak out on biofuels controversy

The UK Renderers' Association (UKRA) has spoken out about the clear advantages of using rejected and unusable food materials to create biofuels.

Responding to recent media coverage on the sustainability of first-generation biofuels, David Green, technical director of the UKRA has spoken of the benefits of using food industry by-products and residues which make them an ideal second-generation biofuel.

"Biofuel crops are currently being grown at the expense of rainforest and virgin lands cleared specifically for this purpose and are, therefore, becoming increasingly unsustainable. Using potential food crops as biofuel sources distorts the supply and availability of these foods.

"The by-products processed and utilised as fuel by UKRA members are far more sustainable, and fit well under the label of second-generation biofuels," said Green.

"The rendering process produces two potential biofuels - a rendered meal and a fat called tallow. Tallow is a sustainable fuel in its own right and can also be used as a feedstock for biodiesel production. Tests indicate that tallow can be used to replace fuel oil in industrial boilers with massive reductions in sulphur dioxide emissions and almost 50% reductions in direct carbon dioxide emissions. The fact that tallow is a biomass will make the overall lifecycle savings of carbon dioxide even higher.

"Rendered meal can also be used as a sustainable fuel. Typical examples are the use of meal directly in power stations and as a coal replacement in cement manufacture.

"UKRA members have invested heavily in technology to produce and use these biofuels. As a result we now have most rendering plants running without the use of fossil fuels; power plants using meal that export green electricity to the national grid; and increasing use of meal and tallow as sustainable biofuels in a range of industries.

UKRA members are processing food industry by-products and residues to provide alternative biofuels to biofuel crops grown both here and abroad. On a continuous basis UKRA members are producing and using renewable energy from a product that has few alternative uses, and cannot be landfilled."