Bullish on budding B.C. biofuel business

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The road to a lower-carbon transportation future does not have to be navigated exclusively by high-tech complexity.

The transportation sector, which generates about 37% of B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions, will need contributions from all quarters to meet lower pollution targets.

So a lot of blue-collar innovation will be part of the equation.

Vancouver-based West Coast Reduction has taken a lead role in that category.

As reported in last week’s Business in Vancouver (“B.C. Fat Helping Beef Up Low-Carbon Fuel Standards”issue 1560; September 24-30), the longtime family-owned B.C. business is becoming a world leader in redirecting renderings from animal bone, blood and fat and other agri-food waste into a renewable energy stream that reduces the carbon footprint of fossil fuels and provides bridge technology to develop zero-emission options.

The company’s feedstock for renewable diesel is already in demand from refineries in North America and Asia and from such major global energy players as Neste, BP and Chevron.

That demand will continue to increase as ground, sea and air transportation companies struggle to cut the air pollution they generate.

West Coast’s main business for most of the past half-century has been turning agri-food scraps into base materials for soaps, cosmetics, fish and pet food.

Most of that waste from butchers, restaurants and food processors would otherwise have ended up in local landfills.

The company’s move into biofuels using a unique industrial process that runs tallow through a fluid catalytic converter promises to provide a valuable option for a wide range of transportation applications that will be needed if the sector is to meet B.C.’s aggressive goal of cutting the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel 20% by 2030.

It also illustrates how innovation down at street level can contribute to solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the environment and the economy.