The companies in 4 sectors (meat processing, dairy processing, fruit and vegetable processing, combined with vinegar and schnapps production, as well as tea and spice production), which were available for cooperation within the project, provide a specific insight into the respective industry. The expertise and experience of the interlocutors provide the industry-wide relevance of the results.
The following conclusions can be drawn for the food processing industries meat, dairy and fruit processing:
Extensive utilization of the resulting plant residues (fruit and vegetable residues) or animal by-products (whey, bones, animal organs, etc.) in the investigated plants or branches is possible and is currently partly carried out.
Many of the Austrian companies investigated are aware of the waste prevention or the material recycling of the resulting plant residues or animal by-products and often implement appropriate waste-avoiding or recycling measures.
All the meat processing companies already successfully implement a comprehensive range of measures. The preventive measures in many of the companies under investigation can already be regarded and recommended as a best practice for other companies in the respective sector.
For some residue fractions (for example, fruit and vegetable residues), there are currently no widely established recovery options since the investigations are often still in the research stage. This provides the opportunity for the Austrian companies to assume a pioneering role for implementation in practice. These residues meet the conditions for by-products, but are disposed of as waste in the specific plants. Here, too, there is a need for action with regard to the optimal utilization of the crop residues.
The preventive measures in many of the companies under investigation can already be regarded as a best practice for other companies in the respective sector and recommended.
For some residue fractions (for example, fruit and vegetable residues), there are currently no widely established recovery options since the investigations are often still in the research stage. This provides the opportunity for the Austrian companies to assume a pioneering role for implementation in practice.
In some cases, the legal regulations concerning the further use of the residues (e.g., whey) act against one another: e.g. Prohibited recycling of whey due to the specification of the raw materials to be used in the approval certificate of the biogas plant.Therefore, a harmonization of the legal provisions would provide better utilization of the potential fuel.
The operational size is decisive for the sustainable utilization of animal by-products. In the case of large companies, the establishment of an additional sales venue is easier to implement in terms of investment than in small companies. For smaller companies, co-operation might be an option to openup new distribution channels and thus be able to further market by-products. Public funding could also help to fulfill these requirements.
The best practices identified for the recovery of animal by-products and herbal residues include:
- For animal by-products from slaughter and meat processing:
- Processing of animal heads for the maximum extraction of up to 39% edible meat
- Sale or use of bones for the production of broths for soups
- Sales of organs at specialized stores
- Energetic utilization in the company’s own biogas plants
- For whey:
- Production of heat-resistant sweet whey powder from 90% demineralized sweet whey by spray-drying
- Direct liquid utilization of sweet and sour milk as a substitute for coffee cream and increased cheese yield by controlling the particle size distribution of the whey proteins
- Covering the own requirements of electricity and heat by recycling the whey in the company’s own biogas plant
- 4-fold reduction of the water content of whey by means of reverse osmosis
- Production of whey concentrate and skimmed milk concentrate which provide valuable raw materials for further production processes (e.g., milk powder, animal feed supplements)
- For fruit and vegetable residues:
- Use of plant residues as feed in the region
- Sale of vegetable residues to the food industry for the production of broths
- Use of the cores of fruit tea in the cosmetics industry
- Fermentation to biogas or the composting of the residues
- Tea stems and residues are suitable for sale at pet supplies
For further information, please refer to the anonymous technical report, which can be viewed following this link: Projekt ILMA – technischer anonymisierter Endbericht