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Emissions in processing

  • Beef and lamb processing plants produce greenhouse gases from energy use and waste treatment.
  • Electricity and thermal energy (from gas or coal) account for most of the energy consumption.
  • Electricity is used for refrigeration, compressors, electrical motors, air compressors and lighting, while thermal energy is consumed by on-site treatment of waste products and hot water heating.
  • The amount of fossil fuel energy consumed in processing plants varies between sites and is dependent on a range of factors, including the age and condition of equipment, percentage of the product that is frozen and the type of fuel used in the boiler.
  • In addition to traditional energy saving approaches, the primary option available to the processing sector in reducing emissions lies in methane capture and use.

A major environmental challenge for meat processing plants is managing waste. While 85 per cent of organic solid waste produced is re-used, mainly as compost, the industry is working to improve this figure by converting waste into energy through:

  • Utilising solid waste streams as alternative boiler fuels
  • Using pyrolysis technology to produce renewable energy in the form of syngas (which can be used in place of fossil fuels) from organic solid waste streams, as well as creating biochar (a stable form of charcoal that can be used to store carbon, improve soil health and increase crop yields)
  • Processing organic solid waste streams to create biogas for use in boilers or to generate electricity
  • Waste streams from the processing sector contain a lot of fat, which if captured can be used as tallow, a source of glycerine normally used in the manufacture of soap and synthetic rubber.