Protein recovery and recycling from animal by-products processes

Reference: LIFE16 ENV/ES/000467 | Acronym: LIFE byProtVal



According to the European Fats Processors and Renderers Association (EFPRA), 328 million pigs, goats, beef and dairy cattle and 6 billion poultry are slaughtered in the EU each year. The portion of slaughtered animals not intended for human consumption must be treated to make it safe. EU rendering plants process some 12 million tonnes per year of low-risk animal by-products. The process involves the application of heat to extract moisture and separate out fats. Temperature control is vital to ensure that specific microorganisms are killed.

The by-products obtained are fats and protein meals that can be used in various applications. However, wet rendering also gives a high-protein-content wastewater that must be treated before discharge. In addition, dead stock, manure, polluted residues and other animal by products are collected. These organic materials, which are highly perishable and contain pathogenic microorganisms are also treated in rendering facilities but their by-products can only be used as solid or liquid fuels. Consequently, there is a need for improved techniques for the recovery and treatment of animal by-product waste.


LIFE byProtVal seeks to recover valuable gelatine and/or collagen from waste produced during the rendering process. The two materials are present in high-protein-content processing water and in greaves. The recovered materials will be tested for their suitability for use in different industrial sectors.

Specific project aims are to:

  • Develop and construct a pilot plant with two units. Unit 1 will treat greaves and is based on an enzymatic process trialled in an earlier LIFE project INESCOP and an FP7-funded project from 2013. Unit 2 will treat processing water using a series of technologies never before applied to this waste stream: isoelectric precipitation, microfiltration and electrocoagulation; and
  • Identify potential applications for recovered collagen derivatives. These may include use in fertilisers and chemical products or in the tanning industry or as animal feed.

    This project is in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy, as it contributes “towards a resource-efficient and circular economy for a sustainable growth in Europe”. In particular, it contributes to the goals of the proposed Regulation on organic fertilisers and the first deliverable of the Circular Economy Package, as waste-based organic fertilisers can replace more environmentally harmful inorganic ones. The project also helps in the implementation of the Waste Framework Directive, the Renewable Energy Directive and the Water Framework Directive.

    Expected results:

  • A procedure for recovering valuable collagen derivatives from greaves and wastewater produced in both wet and dry rendering facilities;
  • An operational demonstration plant with units for the treatment of greaves and for processing water;
  • Validation of newly formulated retaining agents and fertilisers based on the recovered collagen;
  • Recovery of at least 100 tonnes/year of collagen by the end of the project;
  • A 50% reduction in water consumption (by recirculating the recovered water);
  • A 50% improvement in the quality of discharged water; and
  • Three to five companies will implement the proposed process by the end of the project.


    Reference: LIFE16 ENV/ES/000467
    Acronym: LIFE byProtVal
    Start Date: 01/09/2017
    End Date: 28/02/2023
    Total Budget: 1,429,463 €
    EU Contribution: 850,895 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Asociacin de Investigacin para la Industria del Calzado y Conexas (INESCOP)
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: Polgono Industrial Campo Alto. C/ Alemania 102, 03600, Elda (Alicante), España
    Contact Person: Francisca ARAN
    Tel: 34965395213



    • Industrial waste
    • Waste recycling
    • Agriculture - Forestry
    • Agricultural waste


    • industrial waste
    • waste recycling
    • industrial waste water
    • slaughterhouse


    • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.2008)
    • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)


    Name Type
    Asociacin de Investigacin para la Industria del Calzado y Conexas (INESCOP) Coordinator
    Sebería Bilbaína, S. Coop., Spain Participant
    Purines Almazán, S.L., Spain Participant
    Trumpler Española, S.A., Spain Participant