Scottish MEPs have joined the fight to change a proposed Directive that would be a huge set back in the use of environmentally-friendly fuels and impose a significant cost on UK agriculture.
NFU Scotland Chief Executive Andy Robertson met Scottish MEPs in Brussels at the end of last week to secure support for changes to the proposed Waste Incineration Directive. Due to be implemented at the end of this year, the Directive would prohibit the use of rendered animal tallow (animal fat) as a fuel, despite it having much lower emissions that burning oil. Tallow fuels boilers in slaughterhouses and rendering plants which produce steam essential for heat treatment and cleaning.
As proposed, at the end of this year, tallow would be classified as a waste product and could only be burnt in incinerators which meet the strict requirements of the Directive. The current boilers would have to be upgraded and the cost of meeting the new requirements makes conversion impractical. Tallow would therefore no longer be a green fuel, rather a waste product with a disposal cost which would have to be borne by the industry. Rendering plants and abattoirs would also have to revert to burning fossil fuels.
Efforts are continuing to convince the European Commission that tallow must be exempt from the Directive, recognising that it is not a waste, rather a valuable source of environmentally-friendly fuel with absolutely no public health implications.
Following the meeting in Brussels, NFUS Chief Executive Andy Robertson said:
“Unless this Directive is changed, the Commission will score an own goal in its attempts to develop green fuels and, at the same time, throw a significant and completely unnecessary cost onto the rendering and agricultural industry.
“We fully support a Directive designed to ensure public health hazards are destroyed safely, but tallow carries no such risk and is in fact an extremely useful product. By classifying it as waste, we will lose thousands of tonnes of green fuel and actually force rendering plants back into burning fossil fuels, which runs contrary to the Commission's environmental policy.
“Some member states have already said they will continue to allow tallow to be used as a fuel. It is in the Commission's interest to have a consistent approach across Europe. It has said it will re-look at the issue after the end of the year, but that is not good enough. This needs to sorted by the Commission now before the Directive comes into effect. We appreciate the support of Scottish MEPs who will be pressing our case for tallow to be removed from the scope of the Directive.”
· Tallow is produced in all Member States as a result of the heat treatment of slaughterhouse animal waste in approved rendering plants.
· It has been calculated that the additional cost to the UK meat and agricultural industries would be about £25 per tonne of raw material processed if tallow cannot be used as a fuel; a cost that would have to be borne by these industries.
· The UK produces 250,000 tonnes of tallow per year (against a total of 2.5 million tonnes across the EU) of which 100,000 tonnes is used as fuel in steam-raising boilers. The steam is essential in many situations in slaughterhouses and rendering plants for cleaning and heat treatment.
· Tallow derived from high quality animal products may continue to be used in animal feed and some other types of tallow are treated under extreme conditions to produce products such as car tyres, paints and cosmetics. The balance of tallow has no market if it cannot be used as fuel.