West Coast rendering company helps make local food supply more sustainable

For many years, rendering has been known as the “silent industry,” due to the general public’s lack of awareness of meat by-products recycling.

But rendering companies such as West Coast Reduction Ltd. are an integral part of creating a sustainable local food system.

“The public is generally unaware of the work we do, our business has always remained under the community radar,” says Jared Girman, director of government relations and strategic initiatives at West Coast Reduction. 

“The bottom line is that we make agriculture more sustainable, and local food more sustainable.”

The organic material that West Coast Reduction collects represents the equivalent of 59 per cent of all organics collected in Metro Vancouver and the service it provides contributes to a more sustainable local food supply, reducing greenhouse gases company-wide by 320,000 MT annually. 

“There is a shortage of capacity to deal with organic waste in the Lower Mainland,” Girman says.

“We create sustainability in terms of food, but also in food cost because there would be a higher cost to the producer if they had to dispose of the materials we collect. We actually pay for that material.”

With the motto of Nothing Left Behind, West Coast Reduction was founded on the concept of the circular economy 50 years ago, before sustainability was a common concept.

The Vancouver-based, family owned and operated company conducts operations in Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Vancouver, Chilliwack and Nanaimo, providing a necessary service to farms, feedlots, restaurants, supermarkets and processors of beef, pork, poultry, and fish.

“We’re looking to find value where others don’t always see it,” Girman says.

Humans create more waste streams than nature can take care of and that’s where rendering comes in. It is recycling in the best sense of the word. 

“We take by-products from the food manufacturing and agricultural industries that are not human consumable, along with other items that would traditionally end up in the landfill, and we turn them into high-quality ingredients,” Girman adds.

As an integral part of a sustainable local food chain, rendering creates high value products from materials that would be otherwise sent to landfill or compost. Inedible food by-products are transformed into protein meal and fats which are then sold to customers worldwide. 

As part of a self-sustaining industry, West Coast Reduction is able to create valuable products while creating valuable long-term employment and sustaining the environment.

The food chain has changed dramatically over the past 70 years. With the evolution of meat and fish processing and increase in production to supply supermarkets, by-product recycling now depends on independent service providers such as West Coast Reduction. 

West Coast Reduction recycles roughly one billion pounds of raw material every year that is transformed into fats and protein meal products. It also collects and recycles millions of pounds of used cooking oil.

These fats and meals help produce finished products that are used in a variety of agricultural and industrial applications. The company makes ingredients for everything from pet and livestock feed to ingredients used in fertilizers, soaps, lubricants, detergents, and biofuel.

Rending these materials has the same effect on greenhouse gas emissions as removing 150,000 cars from the road each year. Rendering avoids 90% of potential greenhouse gas emissions when compared with industrial composting. 

The company is deeply committed to environmental initiatives that protect the planet’s air, water, and land. 

“Our rendering processes are designed to reduce energy and water consumption while minimizing environmental impacts,” Girman says.

In recognition of its sustainability efforts, West Coast Reduction was awarded the 2016 BC Food Processors Association Sustainability Award, which recognized the company’s contribution to the environment, economy, and the people of BC.