Recycling and Repurposing? The NARA Is on It

Author: Casey Gale       

North American Renderers Association

The rendering industry’s role in the fuel industry was a hot topic among the attendees of the North American Renderers Association Annual Convention. (Carmen Segovia illustration)

“Animal by-product” doesn’t exactly have the nicest ring to it. But the sound the North American Renderers Association (NARA) associates with the more than 50 percent of an animal that is considered inedible by Americans is ka-ching. Rendering is a process that reclaims 99 percent of unwanted meat, bone, and fat into ingredients for other products, such as nutritious food for Fido and Fluffy. NARA’s website describes rendering as essentially recycling — creating a smaller footprint in food production by repurposing discarded materials into 19 billion pounds of fat, oil, and protein products each year.

Each year, the NARA Annual Convention attracts top-level management and owners of companies in the United States, Canada, and abroad that “process used cooking oil and/or animal by-product raw materials into finished rendered products such as tallow, lard, grease, meat and bone meal, poultry meal, feather meal, blood meal, and many other products,” said Marty Covert, NARA’s convention coordinator. Other attendees include business partners who buy or broker finished rendered products, such as traders and producers of pet food and livestock feed.

Fuel for the Future

Rendering isn’t only about creating different food products. According to Covert, one of the hottest topics at the 2019 convention was the rendering industry’s role in the fuel industry, since rendered fats and oils as a feedstock are used in biodiesel and renewable diesel “and now are co-processing with petroleum refiners,” Covert said.

The convention — Oct. 28–Nov. 1 at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, Calif. — welcomed speakers from the fuel industry including Kurt Kovarik of the National Biodiesel Board and Jason Breslaw of BP. The 75 attendees and 55 exhibitors also heard from Dana Brooks of the Pet Food Institute, among others.

The program for the five-day event also included a Halloween-themed reception and dance, and a trip to San Diego Safari Park. And attendees toured Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that trains dogs to assist veterans with disabilities. In other words, to see firsthand a beneficial by-product of their by-product.

Casey Gale is an associate editor at Convene.