Top Tips To Reduce Pet Food Waste During Processing
Reducing the environmental impact of pet food production is now a key objective for many manufacturers. However, to date the environmental agenda for pet food has focused either on ingredients or packaging. This overlooks one of the easiest wins for manufacturers – reducing waste during production.
Waste pet food has significant environmental and financial costs. Not only does the raw material have a cost, but additional costs are associated with the disposal of waste products. As raw material and energy costs have undergone massive inflation over the last couple of years, the need to control costs and maximise utilisation of expensive ingredients has also increased. Some key areas to consider include:
- Improve packaging
Good quality packaging improves the shelf life of pet food and therefore reduces waste in the distribution chain and in households. However, there is often a balance between reducing the use of plastics and non-recyclable materials, while maintaining or increasing product shelf life. Choosing the right packaging during the manufacturing process can improve shelf life and reduce handling, improving efficiencies and reducing waste.
- Improve forecasting
Inaccurate forecasting can mean you waste raw materials and ingredients. Don’t assume that you need to produce a certain number of products unless you have clear evidence for such demand (such as agreed orders or demand modelling). Better and more accurate forecasting models allow you to guess less and maximise the use of ingredients.
- Measure and plan
Without measuring waste, you can’t tell if you are reducing it, or adequately calculate what it is costing you. Feeding this data into company-wide systems so that it can be analysed centrally helps to identify areas of inefficiency and waste, allowing manufacturers to streamline processes and reduce waste.
- Review quality control systems
Quality control is vital, but there is a need to avoid overzealous standards which may result in ingredients which are perfectly usable being discarded. As well as making sure that the quality standards and specifications being applied are appropriate for the product, it is also important to make sure that the processes used for quality assurance are operating correctly, whether that is calibrating equipment or training staff.
- Involve staff
As with other areas, staff awareness, education and involvement play a huge role in minimising waste. Employees should be invested and committed to reducing waste and building it into company culture. As well as educating staff about the impacts of waste, they should be encouraged to take part in a full dialogue as employees often have useful insights.
- Improve ‘disposal’ of unavoidable waste
Even with the best will in the world, some ‘waste’ is likely to be generated. This should be dealt with in a way which maximises its usefulness or value. The options, in order of preference, are:
- Redistribution to people
- Use for animal feed
- Anaerobic digestion
- Incineration with energy recovery
- Incineration, landfill or disposal via sewerage systems
It may also be possible to utilise certain products in novel ways, for example vegetable oils and animal by-products (ABPs) can be converted into biodiesel where facilities allow.
- Use technology to reduce waste during production
New technology or equipment may help increase utilisation, for example by recovering more usable protein from meat carcases. Another option is to optimise existing production processes, particularly when it comes to production changes or cleaning-in-place (CIP).
For example, the HRS R Series of heat exchangers uses a scraper bar within the inner tube to enhance product flow, prevent fouling and minimise pressure drop. It has the unique feature that when configured correctly, the unit can be run in reverse, effectively emptying the heat exchanger tube(s) of product without damaging it or changing its characteristics, so it can be recovered and utilised.
Due to the amount of product saved, and the fact that it is often unnecessary to install additional product recovery systems, the R Series heat exchanger can quickly pay for itself, and in the long term can be a more economic option than alternative systems which have lower capital costs.