A Circular Economy is defined as an economic system which aims to eliminate waste and continually use resources. The objectives of a Circular Economy are to re-use, share, repair, and recycle resources and products. Ideally, waste materials or by-products should become inputs for another process. The concept of a Circular Economy covers all industries with the general aim of lowering material inputs and minimising waste (Moraga, et al., 2019). It is not widely recognised, but the animal feed and production industries, make a very significant contribution to the Circular Economy (Korhonen et al., 2018). For example, in Germany compound feed manufacturers process some 19 million tonnes of raw materials each year, and they consist of just under 40% of primary products (cereals, legumes and cassava). The remaining volume is made up almost exclusively of by-products from food manufacture. These low-value by-products are utilised efficiently in animal production removing the potential environmental threat (Grote and Radewahn, 2000).
Feeding animals can clearly make a significant contribution to the Circular Economy. This is illustrated in Figure 1 for use of oilseeds. Large quantities of oilseeds are processed to yield edible oil as an important human food and this also generates oilseed meals which are widely used in animal nutrition. Some of the edible oil and recycled fats from the food industry are also used to manufacture biodiesel which in itself generates glycerol as a by-product. For every 1000 kg of biodiesel produced, about 100 kg of glycerol is also generated as a by-product (Raman et al., 2019). The effective usage of crude glycerol is important to improve the economic sustainability of the biodiesel industry while also reducing the environmental impacts caused by the generated waste. As shown in Figure 1, glycerol is utilized as a raw material to produce Glycal Forte for consumption by dairy cows. Among other benefits, Glycal Forte makes the glycerol protected from rumen degradation; meaning its used more efficiently by the animal reducing energy wastage whilst also improving rumen health. Consequently, the cow is more healthy and more productive consuming glycerol in this way.
Figure 1. Glycal Forte in the Circular Economy.
The concept of sustainability is widely discussed nowadays and is important in many areas of human activity, not only in agriculture. By definition, sustainable development means meeting the needs of present generations without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For dairy cows and milk production, sustainability requires us to make more efficient use of feed resources whilst reducing environmental damage.
The UK dairy industry has made major improvements in sustainability in recent years. The total number of dairy cows has fallen from 2.6 million in 1996 to 1.9 million in 2020, a 28% reduction. Whilst the number of UK dairy cows has decreased, the yield per cow has increased by 100% since 1975, up from 4,100 to 8,200 litres in 2020. As a result, total domestic milk production has increased by 14% over this period, from 13,400 million litres to 15,300 million litres in 2020 (Uberoi, 2021).
There are 278 million dairy cows worldwide. If they were all as efficient as UK dairy cows, we would only need around 76 million of them to produce the same amount of milk. A striking example of the great value increased productivity could have on sustainability whilst still yielding adequate supplies of an important human food, milk in this case (NFU, 2020).
Glycal Forte continues this trend to improve the sustainability of milk production. The ability of Glycal Forte to support and improve rumen function also ensures better utilization of dairy feeds. By improving the rumen microbial population Glycal Forte allows a reduction in feed protein content, improves fertility and avoids several metabolic diseases such as SARA and ketosis. This in turn means that less antibiotics are required, and reduced feed protein content will result in less nitrogen excreted in manure. These are very important issues today where antibiotic use and nitrogen excretion into the environment are major problems. Glycal Forte is a feed ingredient that contributes to supporting the Circular Economy and helps in the sustainability of dairy cows and milk production.
Grote, H. and Radewahn, P. (2000). Future challenges facing the compound feed industry. Kraftfutter, 9: 315-320.
Korhonen, J., Honkasalo, A. and Seppälä, J. (2018). Circular economy: the concept and its limitations. Ecological Economics, 43: 37-46. doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.06.041.
Moraga, G., Huysveld, S., Mathieux, F., Blengini, G. A., Alaerts, L., Van Acker, K., de Meester, S., and Dewulf, J. (2019). Circular economy indicators: What do they measure? Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, 146: 452–461.
NFU (2020). The facts about British red meat and milk. NFU, Agriculture House Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire CV8 2TZ February 2020.
Raman, A. A. A., Tan, H. W. and Buthiyappan, A. (2019). Two-step purification of glycerol as a value added by product from the biodiesel production process. Frontiers in Chemistry, 19, doi: org/10.3389/fchem.2019.00774.
Uberoi, E. (2021). UK dairy industry statistics. House of Commons Library, https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN02721/SN02721.pdf