By using by-products from rendering as ingredients in pet food, we can reduce food waste and make more efficient use of the resources used to produce human food. Repositioning these products as upcycled can help increase their acceptance among pet owners.
In a 2021 paper published in the journal Foods, scientists suggested defining upcycled ingredients as environmentally friendly foods made from safe ingredients that would not have been used for human consumption, such as damaged food produce, by-products, and scraps from food preparation. These ingredients are considered upcycled because they are being used in a way that adds value to them and reduces waste, rather than being discarded. By repurposing these ingredients, we can create more sustainable and efficient food systems while still meeting the needs of consumers.
“By-products are what’s left over after the intended products are made - regardless of whether it’s in a food and beverage supply chain or a pet food supply chain,” Angie Crone, CEO of the Upcycled Food Association. “It’s these by-products that contribute to millions of pounds of food waste each year. Upcycling involves converting these food by-products into a new ingredient or edible food product through value-added processing, essentially allowing our food system to get more out of less. For example, instead of just one product from a manufacturing process, you can now get two!”
Some examples of upcycling include:
- Egg shell powder from liquid egg production
- Red Beets carrot, blueberry, cranberry residuals after juicing
- Pumpkin’s post-processing leftovers
- Cabbage leaves and off-sized pieces
Problems to Solutions -> Converting Food Waste to Pet Food, a climate change solution
Agriculture has a significant impact on the environment through various processes, such as the production of fertilizer, the emission of greenhouse gases from livestock, and the transportation of produce to markets. Upcycling agricultural products can help reduce the negative environmental impacts of these processes by repurposing materials that would otherwise be discarded and adding value to them.
Food waste is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and the use of natural resources. According to the World Resources Institute, food waste accounts for 8% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to 4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the world. In addition, food waste consumes a land area larger than China and a quarter of irrigation water globally. It is estimated that 24% of food is lost or wasted between production and consumption.
Pet food and treats can play a role in reducing food waste by using rescued or upcycled ingredients as part of their production. This can help reduce the demand for raw materials and competition between human and pet food streams. Cereals and grains make up 53% of food loss and waste by caloric content, while fruits and vegetables make up 44% by weight. In total, 1.5 quadrillion kilocalories of food were lost or wasted in 2009, from a total of 1.3 billion tons of food.
See how Furry Green upcycle food waste to pet food link