Fat from dead animals is being used to make fuel for aeroplanes that has less of a carbon footprint but researchers warn it may not be the silver bullet it’s believed to be.
Pigs, chickens and cattle are some of the animals whose fat is considered waste when they die, which has led many to reuse it in the form of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
A study by Transport & Environment, a campaign group for green transport, claims that not enough animals are slaughtered each year to provide the level of SAF the aviation industry needs.
By 2030, the demand for SAF is expected to triple and if this cannot be met by animal waste, it will end up being accounted for with alternatives.
Matt Finch, who worked on the study, said: “If you put on a massive extra demand source from anywhere from aviation, in this case, the industries where fat is currently being used, will have to look for alternatives. And that alternative is palm oil. So, aviation indirectly, will be responsible for increasing the amount of palm oil being pulled through the European systems.”
Using more palm oil will mean more forestry will be cut down to build new plantations – this releases high carbon emissions as these forests store historic carbon dioxide.
The study reveals that since 2006, the amount of fuel made from dead animals in Europe has grown fortyfold – but if industry begins to become solely reliant on it as a source for power, it won’t be enough.
To explain the level of demand, the researchers state that 8,800 dead pigs would be needed to fly from Paris to New York if this was the only source of energy.