California Renderers Challenged

By Tina Caparella

Continued grease theft and more regulations possibly targeting inedible meat product diversion are of great concern to members of California’s Rendering Industry Advisory Board (RIAB). The group met with California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) staff in early November to hear updates on the state’s inedible kitchen grease (IKG) program and the ongoing efforts by the California Department of Resources, Recycling, and Recovery – or CalRecycle – to divert more “organics,” which includes food waste that could contain rendering raw materials, to anaerobic digestion and composting.

Paula Batarseh, chief of CDFA’s Meat, Poultry, and Egg Safety (MPES) Branch, presented the IKG program’s new mission, vision, and value statements along with the department’s three key focus areas related to rendering: carcass disposal due to natural disasters such as extreme heat or fires, permits for transporters of inedible packinghouse by-products, and IKG program enforcement and inspections.

“Renderers provide a very valuable service to the community,” stated Batareseh, who went on to highlight some of her goals as having MPES inspectors be the eyes and ears for all branch programs (including IKG) and working with renderers’ private investigators on grease theft cases. Education and outreach of local and state law enforcement as well as city and county district attorneys about the state’s IKG program are also a priority for MPES staff.

Jed Smith of Rio Valley Biofuels shared his experience with grease thefts in Southern California, voicing his frustrating that law enforcement where his company collects used cooking oil is not aware of the state’s IKG program.

“The penalties, enforcement, and inspections currently in place are very important to me as a business owner,” he remarked. “Keep in mind no theft of inedible kitchen grease is too small because every gallon matters to my operation.” Smith added that the unlicensed collectors who buy stolen used cooking oil are creating an unfair playing field.

California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones said there is increasing pressure on carcass disposal in some rural areas of the state due to lack of rendering services. California law requires carcasses and inedible meat products go to rendering. RIAB Chairman Michael Koewler, Sacramento Rendering Company, noted that collecting in areas of California that have minimal and scattered population/cities is logistically and economically difficult, especially now that the state’s diesel taxes have jumped up more than 20 cents per gallon.

One solution mentioned that could solve the predicament is to obtain state funding for carcass collection services in far-reaching sections of California similar to how CalRecycle provides funding for collection of organics for anaerobic digestion.

“It is time to insert ourselves into those conversations,” Jones commented. One area of concern renderers plan to engage with CalRecycle is regarding Senate Bill 1383 signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown in September 2016. The bill establishes targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in statewide disposal of organic waste from 2014 levels by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. The law grants CalRecycle the regulatory authority required to achieve the organic disposal reduction targets. Prior legislation, Assembly Bill 1826 signed into law in October 2014, requires businesses to recycle their organic waste starting April 1, 2016, and requires local jurisdictions across California to implement organic waste recycling programs to divert organics generated by businesses beginning January 1, 2016.

Another agency California renderers want to educate about the benefits of rendering is the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which oversees the state’s obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One way of meeting the reduction goals is by including alternative fuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel in the state’s transportation fuel. With the assistance of other California rendering company representatives, Sacramento Rendering hosted a plant tour for CARB, CalRecycle, and CDFA staff in mid-November to highlight the benefits of rendering and its finished products to the state’s communities, livestock producers, and feed and biofuels manufacturers.

“We’re not just recycling, we’re harvesting because these by-products have value,” said Shaun Griffin, Darling International Inc. “There is no part of the food animal that is not used today.” California renderers said they feel challenged by government entities that are subsidizing alternative disposal technologies for material that is already being collected, has economic value, and is used in feed, food, and industrial applications. Others voiced concern these other disposal methods do not ensure pathogen-free material.

“It makes me uneasy to think about keeping our livestock healthy without the rendering industry,” commented Jones.

December 2017 RENDER | back