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Use of animal fats to produce jet biofuels may impact planet, warns new study

It may come as a surprise for many, but the fat of some dead animals is being used to make greener jet fuel. However, a new study warns that these "sustainable aviation fuels" may harm the planet. 

The alarming report comes from Transport & Environment, a clean transportation campaign group based in Brussels. It emphasizes that there are not enough animals to meet the growing demand for animal-derived fuels in the aviation industry.   

Unfortunately, a flight from Paris to New York would require fat from up to 8,800 slaughtered pigs.

The so called-sustainable fuel 

Animal fats are typically regarded as waste-derived primarily from pigs, cattle, and chickens. As a result, it has been suggested that aviation fuel made from fats may have a lower carbon footprint.

In fact, demand for such fuel is expected to skyrocket by 2030, with the majority going to the airline industry. There is a growing demand for biofuels derived from animal fats to power Europe's transportation system.

This surge in demand for animal-derived fuel is primarily due to high carbon emissions from airlines. And around the world, the aviation industry is under pressure to reduce emissions and use cleaner fuels. The new report adds, "Major airlines have recently struck big deals with oil suppliers for what is termed ‘sustainable aviation fuels’ (SAF).”

At the moment, it is mainly derived from fossil-based kerosene to power aircraft engines.

However, the high demand for airline fuel may not be met solely by animal fats, and experts fear that the industry would use more palm oil — another source of high carbon emissions.

According to a BBC report, demand for biodiesel from animal waste or used cooking oils has steadily increased in the United Kingdom over the last 20 years. 

The new study adds that fuel production from dead animals has increased fortyfold in Europe since 2006. The majority of these fuels are used in automobiles and trucks. 

BBC reported, “While the EU is further down this road, the UK is currently consulting on limiting the type of animal fats that go into jet fuel. The government is mulling a ban or a strict limit on both animal fats and used cooking oil in the aviation sector, worried about the unintended consequences,”

This is not the first time animal byproducts have been used; they have previously been used in pet food and the oleochemicals (soap, cosmetics) industries. 

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