Animal byproducts provide opportunity to cut carbon footprint of feed

For European feed compounders, locally produced Processed Animal Proteins (PAPs) and rendered fat can replace soy meal and palm oil with a net reduction in carbon emissions

Martin Alm, EFPRA technical director
June 28, 2023

Lifecycle analysis performed on behalf of the European Fat Renderers and Processors Association (EFPRA) has shown the carbon footprint benefits of using animal byproducts (ABP) in feed. For European feed compounders, locally produced Processed Animal Proteins (PAPs) and rendered fat can replace soy meal and palm oil with a net reduction in carbon emissions.

Conducted by Blonk consultants, the results meet Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI) standards so ABPs can be directly compared with other feed ingredients on its database.

“Following the partial lifting of the ‘feed ban’ in the EU in autumn 2021, there is more interest in ABPs as feed ingredients,” said EFPRA technical director, Martin Alm. “Porcine PAPs are permitted in poultry feed, likewise poultry PAPs can be used in pig feed.”

There are also markets for PAPs in aquafeed and pet food, and Category 3 rendered fat is an important feed ingredient too. New EU regulations on the use of products linked to deforestation further burnish the credentials of ABPs.

The results

Fourteen European rendering companies shared their environmental data from 2016-2018 to make the calculation (Fig. 1). There are results for four types of fat and seven types of protein meal which reflect the main ABPs available for feed production.


Figure 1. What was measured to calculate the environmental impact

Soybean, palm and rapeseed, the vegetable-based alternatives to animal-based proteins and fats, have a higher overall carbon footprint than the ABP-derived products. Figures 2 and 3 show the climate change impact per kg for ABP-derived products and vegetable alternatives including land use change.


Figure 2. Climate change impact of meal products


Figure 3. Climate change impact of oil products

Palm and soy cultivation are highly associated with deforestation activities in Southeast Asia and South America over the past 20 years which is reflected by the relatively high contribution of land use change to climate change impact.

Assessing the impact per kg of protein is even more favorable to ABPs because they are richer in protein than vegetable alternatives. Rapeseed and soybean meal contain 34% and 46% protein respectively whereas PAPs’ protein content ranges from 50-64%, other protein sources such as feather meal and blood meal are even higher. Hence, overall PAPs have a lower carbon footprint than rapeseed meal.

Looking at fats, apart from rapeseed oil, all animal fats have a lower environmental footprint than their vegetable oil alternatives. In Europe, animal fats are the primary natural source of hard fats and their vegetable-based alternatives, palm oil or palm kernel oil have an environmental impact between 4 to 8 times higher. In the same way, poultry oil can be compared with oil from soy and rape which have an impact between 2.4-7.5 times higher.

“Overall, the study shows that animal proteins and fats can play a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of feed and pet food. We want to make sure the feed sector is fully aware of this after the reintroduction of pig and poultry PAPs,” said Alm.