Banner for LabNotes
From Lab Notes
Contact Information
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


You are here: FPL Home  / Information Products & Services  / Publications

Requested Product

Title: Life-cycle assessment of treating slaughterhouse waste using anaerobic digestion systems

Source: Journal of Cleaner Production

Author(s)Wang, Shunli ; Sahoo, Kamalakanta ; Jena, Umakanta ; Dong, Hongmin ; Bergman, Richard ; Runge, Troy

Publication Year: 2021  View PDF »

Category: Journal Articles

Abstract: The meat industry in the US generates considerable amount of slaughterhouse waste (SHW), which is typically converted into more useable products through the rendering process. Although rendering generates sellable fat and meal commodities, it has large environmental impacts because it is energy intensive. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a promising technology for treating SHW and reducing environmental impact through biogas production to generate heat or electricity, as well as by enabling nutrient recovery and pathogen reduction. This study compared the life-cycle energy use and global warming impact of treating SHW with traditional rendering with AD to produce heat and electricity. The study also considered the co-digestion of SHW with the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) and sewage sludge. A cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment (LCA) method was used to quantify the energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of these systems for treating SHW. We compared three scenarios: (1) AD of SHW, (2) Co-AD of SHW with OFMSW, and (3) Co-AD of SHW with sewage sludge to reference systems of simple rendering and composting. The study findings revealed that the total cradle-to-gate energy use and GHG emissions by treating SHW with AD and co-AD were 0.56.7 GJ/1000 kg-SHW and 400834 kg-CO₂-eq/1000 kg-SHW, whereas for the rendering control scenarios total cradle-to-gate energy use and GHG emissions were 1.9 GJ/1000 kg-SHW and 96.4 kg-CO₂-eq/1000 kg-SHW, respectively. However, considering all the benefits of treating SHW with co-AD, including the displacement of fossil fuel and electricity and nitrogen fertilizers generated as system outputs, these systems perform better than the rendering process. Compared to the reference systems, the GHG reduction potential of treating SHW with co-AD varied between 426.8 and 524.0 kg-CO₂-eq/1000 kg-SHW. Among all input parameters, methane (CH₄) leak from the AD system, and nitrogen fertilizer displacement were the most sensitive parameters affecting the results. By implementing AD of SHW in meat industries in the southeast US, the energy production and GHG emissions reduction potential were estimated to be 22-29 10⁶ GJ and 1.6-2.0 × 109 kg-CO₂-eq per year, respectively. The results indicate that the AD of SHW can substantially reduce GHG emissions of the US meat industry as well as produce bioenergy to provide energy security in the US.

Keywords: Life-cycle assessment; slaughterhouse waste (SHW); anaerobic digestion (AD); bioenergy; greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions

Publication Review Process: Formally Refereed

File size: 1,024 kb(s)

Date posted: 03/17/2021

This publication is also viewable on Treesearch:  view
RITS Product ID: 10128
Current FPL Scientist associated with this product
Bergman, Richard
Research Forest Products Technologist

Additional items that might interest you
View the video celebrating FPL's 100 years of public service in 2010, from the producers of the Greatest Good....view

Research Highlights from FPL....view

Termite Eradication: A search for the Holy Grail.... view

Moisture Management in Residential Construction Series videos...view

Wood Floor Systems in Residential Construction Series videos....view
- FPL's Mission and Strategic Plan -

FPL's mission is to identify and conduct innovative wood and fiber utilization research that contributes to conservation and productivity of the forest resource, thereby sustaining forests, the economy, and quality of life. ... ..more »

- FPL Research Emphasis Areas -
Advanced Composites

As an integral part of the FPL mission, we improve the long-term sustainability of our Nation's forests by creating valuable composite products from biobased materials ... ..more »

Advanced Structures

The FPL has been in the forefront of wood-frame housing research since 1910 and has long been recognized as a world leader in such housing-related areas as engineered wood ... ..more »

Forest Biorefinery

We all know the compelling reasons that the United States needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Historically, the greatest increases in energy demand have been for transportation fuels ... ..more »


A leader in wood products research for over a century, the FPL is positioning itself to become the lead Federal research facility for the application of nanotechnology in forest products ... more »

Woody Biomass Utilization

Forests in the United States contain a substantial amount of small-diameter, overstocked, and underutilized material.FPL research projects are exploring the potential of the small-diameter ... ..more »