Sustainability

Gelatine and Hydrolysed Collagen – a natural and sustainable product with added value throughout the supply chain

For consumers today it is becoming increasingly important to know what is in their foods and other everyday products. More and more, they prefer products without e. g. artificial or genetically modified additives that require E number labelling. In case of gelatine and hydrolysed collagen, there is no reason for concern: both are pure, natural proteins containing neither preservatives nor other additives. Thus they are natural foodstuff with no allergic potential which perfectly meet today’s consumer needs in terms of application and sustainability throughout the supply chain. In addition it is becoming more relevant for consumers to get a better understanding of the environmental impact of products. Thus all involved parties in the entire manufacturing process are obliged to undergo a continuous improvement process to minimize environmental impacts.

The following infographic gives an overview.

  • Reducing food waste

    GME members have reduced food waste by processing by-products from the meat industry. 

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  • Improving the manufacturing process

    Technical improvements within the manufacturing process itself have led to a decrease in fossil fuel usage and ultimately in CO2 emissions – despite an increase in production volume. By reducing their CO2 footprint, manufacturers have made a positive contribution to the European Community Kyoto reduction targets and thus environmental protection.

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  • Recycling wastewater

    90 per cent of the wastewater that arises during the manufacturing process is returned to nature, often cleaner and of a higher quality than before.

  • Creating renewable energies

    Special bacteria break down components such as fats and other organic materials, converting them into renewable energies such as biogas - a valuable product that is used to produce electricity and heat. A number of companies have taken advantage of this and set up their own power plants, which allows them to generate a large portion of the energy they require. Another inevitable by-product, waste heat, is used for drying processes.

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  • Reusing production sludge

    Good use is being made of the sludge that arises during production: all residual solid waste is filtered out and used by farmers as a nutrient-rich organic fertiliser.

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  • Making use of by-products

    All along the value chain of the meat and fish processing industries, gelatine and hydrolysed collagen production creates value for the whole community by converting by-products into higher value protein products, greases and minerals, thus reducing the environmental impact and enhancing the social and economic dimension of the meat and fish industries. As such, gelatine has a positive impact on overall sustainability. The proteins, for example, are mainly added to pet food to increase its nutritional value. The fats are of very high purity and are used in food and feed applications and to make candle wax and special synthetic materials. They can also be used as a raw material in biodiesel production - which in turn helps reduce CO2 emissions. The minerals are added to feed and fertilisers, transformed into anti-corrosive agents or used to protect casting moulds in steel construction.

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  • Reducing food waste on the retail side

    On the retail side of the supply chain, gelatine helps reduce food waste thanks to its long shelf-life and can help extend shelf-life by acting as a barrier to air, especially for meat and seafood products.

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  • Creating innovations to further support sustainability

    A student at Brunel University in Great Britain, for example, has used gelatine to develop a “Bump Mark”, which could replace or at least supplement the labels widely used to indicate the shelf life of perishables. The mark is filled with gelatine and also contains little bumps. The bumps cannot be felt as long as the gelatine remains solid. However, as the food approaches its expiration date, the gelatine begins to decay and becomes fluid, allowing consumers to clearly feel the bumps with their fingers. Gelatine is a protein and “ages” just like milk, meat or cheese, especially since the label is exposed to the same conditions as the contents of the package. This is not only helpful for visually impaired consumers, but will also reduce the uncertainty many people feel when confronted with traditional expiration dates: consumers throw out large amounts of perfectly good food, simply because it has past the best-before date. 

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Ecologically correct: Energy reduction through process efficiency

Gearing their production processes towards sustainability is crucial to the success of gelatine manufacturers. Gelatine and hydrolysed collagen are based on 100% natural raw materials and therefore dependent on a healthy and intact nature. Consequently a lasting preservation of nature is of highest interest to the manufacturers. In the last few years, members of the GME have invested heavily in improving their production facilities and optimising manufacturing processes to achieve a more efficient use of limited resources in all areas of the supply chain. It all starts with reducing food waste by processing by-products from the meat industry. The technical improvement of the manufacturing process itself has led to a decrease of fossil fuel usage and ultimately CO2 emission – despite an increase in production volume. With this reduction of their CO2 foot print the manufacturers positively contribute to the European Community Kyoto reduction targets and thus environmental protection.

Making sensible use of valuable by-products

The protection of nature does not stop here as the by-products generated from the production of gelatine and hydrolysed collagen can be used in manifold further products. These by-products can be divided into high-grade proteins, fats and minerals. The proteins, for example, are added to animal feed (mainly pet food) to increase its nutritional value. The fats are of very high purity and used in food and feed applications, but can also be used as a raw material in biodiesel production thus helping to reduce CO2 emission again – and to make candle wax and special synthetic materials. The minerals are used in feed, added to fertilisers, transformed into anti-corrosive agents or used to protect casting moulds in steel construction. It is almost impossible to put residues to better use!

Recycling potentials

Fresh and clean water is also a very important resource of nature which should not be squandered. 90 percent of the wastewater which arises during the manufacturing process is given back to nature, often in a cleaner condition and higher quality than before. To achieve this, wastewater is pre-cleaned in factory-owned wastewater treatment plants to remove any recyclable materials before being discharged. Special bacteria break down components such as fats and other organic materials, converting them into renewable energies such as biogas - a valuable product that is used in cogeneration units to produce electricity and heat. This way, several companies run their own power plants, thereby generating a large portion of the energy they require. The unavoidable waste heat is used for drying processes. Good use is also being made of the sludge arising during production: all residual solid waste is filtered out and used by farmers as an organic fertiliser full of nutrients. Especially in times of over-fertilised lakes it is time to go back to nature with natural manure.

A commitment to sustainability

If that wasn’t enough already, on the retail side of the supply chain gelatine contributes again to a reduction of food waste thanks to its long shelf-life and can contribute to extending shelf-life by avoiding contact with air e. g. fresh sausages and pâtés. All these aspects have one ultimate goal: a sensitive handling of limited resources in times of a growing world population. The member companies of GME are aware of their responsibilities for the environment and have made a voluntarily commitment to sustainability

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About Gelatine

About Hydrolysed Collagen

Health & Nutrition benefits of gelatine and hydrolysed collagen

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