Waste and residues as raw materials

In recent years, Neste has focused primarily on waste and residues as renewable raw materials. Approximately 80% of the production of our renewable products is based on waste and residue fats and oils.

Efficient utilization of waste and residue materials is a key part of circular economy. Making high-quality products from waste and residue raw materials is an example of efficient use of resources. It provides also one of the key means to reduce the pressure to clear new areas of land for the cultivation or production of virgin raw materials. 

We are continuously searching for new renewable raw materials, such as even lower quality wastes and residues, for the production of our premium-quality products. With our proprietary NEXBTL technology, renewable products can be refined flexibly from a wide variety of low-quality raw materials while the end-products retain their high quality. Here are examples of wastes and residues that we have in our raw material portfolio:

Animal fat from food industry waste

For years, we have produced our renewable products from the food industry’s meat processing waste that is unsuitable for human consumption. Meat processing waste is further processed into meat and bone meal, as well as rendered animal fat at rendering plants.

Rendering is a heating process which also eliminates pathogens in order to protect the health of humans and animals. In addition to producing biofuels, animal fat may partly be used as animal feed, as well as in the chemical and energy industries. Neste sources animal fat globally.

Fish fat from fish processing waste

Neste has used fish fat derived from fish processing since 2012. Fish fat is separated from the gutting waste of freshwater fish pangasius after the parts suitable for human consumption have been removed for the food industry use at fish processing plants. Pangasius is grown particularly in Southeast Asia. Fish fat can also be used as feed.

Residues and wastes from vegetable oil processing

Many vegetable oil processing residues and wastes can be used as raw materials to produce Neste's renewable products. For example, palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD) consisting of rancid fats needs to be removed during the palm oil refining process to improve taste, odor, and color of the oil before it meets the food industry’s quality standards and can be used to to produce cookies, cereals, and candy, or used as spreads and cooking fat. 

When oil palm fruit are handled, normal bruising occurs causing the fat in the fruit to start degrading. The longer it takes for the fruit to be transported, processed, and refined into palm oil, the larger part of the fats degrade.

The deliveries of oil palm bunches from the plantations to the mills are, therefore, made as quickly as possible in order to minimize the rancidification of fats into free fatty acids. This limits the amount of PFAD that needs to be removed to produce food-quality oil.

Producers of palm oil aim at as small yields of processing residue PFAD as possible because they can get a better price for the palm oil than from selling PFAD.

The annual PFAD volumes available globally total approximately 2.5 to 3.5 Mt, as refining of palm oil generally yields approx. 3.5–5% of PFAD as a processing residue. This is less than the amount of sawdust a sawmill yields when making timber products. 

Besides being used as a raw material for renewable fuels, PFAD is also used to produce candles, soaps, other oleochemical products, as well as animal feed. 

Used cooking oil

Used cooking oils and fats are wastes collected from the food industry and restaurants. Neste sources used cooking oils (UCO) globally.

Technical corn oil

Technical corn oil (TCO) is a processing residue generated in the production of ethanol from corn, during which also animal feed is produced. The yields of TCO are small and this residue is not suitable for human consumption.

TCO is cheaper than corn oil (or maze oil) produced for human consumption. TCO is used primarily as raw material in the oleochemical industry, as an animal feed additive, and as raw material in renewable diesel production. The needs for ethanol as a biocomponent in gasoline blends has simultaneously increased the availability of TCO as raw material suitable for renewable diesel production. We source TCO from the United States.

Tall oil pitch

In addition to the wastes and residues listed above, Neste has utilized inedible tall oil pitch, a residue from tall oil refining process, to produce transport fuels at its refinery in Naantali, Finland.

Sustainability of wastes and residues

All the renewable raw materials we use, wastes and residues included, comply with the strict sustainability criteria of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (EU RED) or those set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US. All Neste’s products, and the raw materials we use in their production, also always meet the legal requirements set by local authorities in our target markets. We source only renewable raw materials that are traceable back to their cultivation sites or production plants.

Replacing fossil oil with renewable and recycled raw materials helps reduce crude oil dependency, greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. The greenhouse gas emissions over the entire life cycle of Neste MY Renewable Diesel made from wastes and residues are on the average 90% smaller than those of fossil diesel. This significantly exceeds the current EU-level requirement for a 50% reduction.