Committed to sustainability

A growing number of consumers want to know what our foods and other products that are used on a daily basis are made from. More and more, they are giving preference to products without artificial or genetically modified additives that require E number labelling. There is no cause for concern in the case of gelatine and collagen peptide: both are foodstuffs – and not food additives. They are a pure, natural protein made from animal raw materials and contain neither preservatives nor other additives. They are thus a natural and healthy foodstuff with a clean label that optimally meets consumer needs in terms of application and sustainability. A growing number of consumers also want to be able to understand what kind of impact a certain product has on the environment. All sectors of the manufacturing industry must therefore continuously assess their processes to ensure that they have as little impact on the environment as possible.

Key sustainability facts
  • Reducing food waste

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

    Download GME Sustainability Statement PDF (33 KB)

  • 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.

    Download the carbon footprint of gelatine PDF (349 KB)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Making use of by-products

    All along the value chain of the meat and fish processing industries, gelatine and collagen peptide 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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Production: Ecologically correct

Gearing production processes towards sustainability is crucial to the success of gelatine manufacturers, both ecologically as well as economically. The raw materials used to make gelatine and collagen peptide are 100 per cent natural and depend upon a healthy and intact environment. For this reason, manufacturers and producers are very interested in long-term environmental protection. Over the last few years, European gelatine manufacturers have invested heavily in updating their production facilities and optimising technical processes to make efficient use of resources.

Sustainability already begins with the fact that gelatine and collagen peptide are made with the by-products of the meat processing industry. Thus giving added value for millions of farmers in the EU. Furthermore, technical improvements of the manufacturing process itself have led to a decrease of fossil fuel usage, water use and CO2 emissions – despite a simultaneous increase in production volume. This reduction of their ecological footprint is one of the primary positive contributions of gelatine manufacturers to meeting the environmental targets set by the Paris agreement for the European Union.

Putting valuable by-products to good use

The by-products from the production and refining processes of gelatine and collagen peptide undergoes further processing. This makes good economic sense considering the volume of the by-products is about two times the volume of the gelatine and collagen peptide products. The by-products can be divided into three groups. The high-quality proteins, for example, are used as ingredients  for pet food to enhance its nutritional value, while the especially high purity fats are used as a raw material in oleochemistry industry or for biodiesel production, which in turn helps reduce CO2 emissions. The minerals are 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 potential

Fresh, clean water is also an important resource that should not be wasted. The wastewater that is generated during the gelatine manufacturing process is returned to nature – often cleaner than it was before. In order to achieve this, the wastewater is pre-cleaned to remove any recyclable materials before being discharged to wastewater treatment plants.

In some cases, special bacteria break down components such as protein and other organic materials, converting them into methane.

This creates biogas, a valuable product that is then used in cogeneration units where it is used to produce electricity and heat. Several companies run their own energy centres, thereby generating a large portion of the energy they need. The waste heat this produces is not simply emitted, but used for drying processes. Good use is also made of the sludge: all residual solid waste is filtered out and used in agriculture as lime sludge, an organic fertiliser that is full of nutrients and contributes to an environmentally friendly agricultural sector within the EU and helps it break away from fossil fertilisers.

Sustainable on the retail side as well

Outside of the production process, gelatine also helps reduce food waste on the retail side of the supply chain: it extends the shelf life of various foods such as fresh sausage or meat products by acting as barrier to oxygen. All of this works towards one goal: a sensible use of limited resources in times of growing population. The member companies of GME are aware of their responsibilities and have made a voluntary commitment to sustainability.

Circular economy

Gelatine and collagen peptide raw material sources are by-products from the meat and farmed fish processing industries, generally considered as well-managed, natural and renewable resources.

Within the complete value chain of the meat and fish processing industries, the gelatine and collagen peptide production creates value for the community at large 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 can be considered as a product with a positive impact on overall sustainability and being part of the circular economy.