Special requirements for the collection and disposal of animal waste

Please find below overall information on animal waste and how it should be managed.

What is animal waste?

Animal waste consists in residues resulting from the killing of animals intended for human consumption, as part of the animal food production flow, throughout the disposal of the dead animals and as part of disease control measures.

Technically, according to EC Regulation no. 1069/2009, this waste is called “Animal by-products not intended for human consumption”.

How / from where is animal waste generated?

The main generators of animal by-products not intended for human use are:

– Slaughter houses, butcheries, meat preparation facilities (parts improper for human consumption: hooves, horns, skins/furs etc.);

– Breeding farms: sheep, swine, cattle, wild animals for fur (i.e. silver foxes) or mean (ostriches, hares etc.)

– Mayoralties with private households for breeding animals for meat/milk/eggs, where animals are killed;

– Hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, generically referred to as HoReCa, generating unconsumed food products;

– Big retail chains, generating food products which have reached their expiration date;

– Zoos and circuses generating food which was not consumed by animals and dead animals;

– Healthcare practices for pets generating body parts from medical interventions and whole bodies;

–  Scientific research facilities using animals for testing pharmaceuticals/cosmetics (guinea pigs).

Is there a difference in the risk level between various types of animal waste? 

Yes, the by-products not intended for human use are classified within the EC regulation no. 1774/2002, into three categories of animal by-products, depending on their risk level. Animal by-products shall be kept, transported and discarded separately depending on the category in which they are included, particularly if such residues are derived from materials intended for human consumption.

A wide range of animal by-products are currently used in major production sectors, such as pharma industry, animal foodstuff industry or leather industry. Beyond it, the Regulation mentioned above has introduced the principle of not feeding farm animals with materials subject to a high risk, according to which materials originating from animals must not constitute food for animals belonging to the same species. In short, yes, animal waste is classified in several types and should be managed differently.

Which is the safe and legal manner to discard animal waste?

The following methods of discarding animal by-products not intended for human use are currently accepted at EU level:

– as waste through incineration;

– through sterilization under pressure, always marking the material obtained;

– in an authorized landfill, only after being processed through sterilization under pressure and after marking the material obtained;

– through co-incineration with recovery of thermal/electrical energy;

– to manufacture organic fertilizers or soil improvers;

– turned into compost or biogas

– used as fuel for combustion;

The latest technologies have widened the possibilities to use animal by-products or derived products in a vast area of production sectors, particularly to produce energy, as per the principle “waste-to-energy”.

Nevertheless, the use of these technologies may create health risks if not managed with responsibility by the economic agents.

What is the status of animal by-products disposal in Romania?

  1. Facts

According to data on the website of the National Veterinary and Food Safety Agency (ANSVSA), there are 262 collectors and transporters of animal by-products not intended for human use in Romania, 15 processors through sterilization and 33 waste disposal companies through incineration/co-incineration. The state’s institutions authorizing and controlling the activity of waste collection, transportation and disposal companies are: ANSVSA, Veterinary Directorates, Agencies for Environmental Protection, along with the National Environmental Agency and Public Health Directorates.

  1. What areas in the management and disposal of animal by-products not intended for human use need improvement
  2. A situation occurring frequently in Romania, which is otherwise breaching the environmental legislation, is the incineration of animal by-products originating from retail chains in incinerators for animal waste authorized by the Veterinary Directorates. These incinerators fail to meet the minimum equipment requirements, emission limits set out by Law 278/2013 and are not meant to incinerate the plastic we use to protect cold meats or other food products of animal origin, or plastic containers used to package dairy.
  3. Some mayoralties where cases of dead domestic animals were reported refused to conclude a contract with the incineration companies, thus choosing to bury the dead animals in the common ground, in completely improper conditions and places, risking the contamination of the underwater.
  4. Despite the significant volume of animal by-products generated by the HoReCa chain, ANSVSA has issued a derogation stating that volumes lower than 20 kg generated on a weekly basis may be directly discarded in landfills, without prior treatment. This creates the risk for a massive volume of animal by-products to reach the landfill, as well as the danger of contaminating the underwater, and spreading disease among animals which feed from the residues found in landfills: strays, crows, sea gulls, rats. They may also spread the disease to animals bred for human consumption.
  5. In Romania there is a practice to offer animal by-product waste from supermarket to animal shelter for consumption. What happens with the infested plastic packaging, resulting from consumption? The reality is that it is sent to landfills, thus potentially generating an epidemic among animals.

Why must this waste be specially managed?

The lives of millions of human and animals have been wasted throughout time due to epidemics of foot-and-mouth diseases, spreading of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Over the past two decades, mankind has faced numerous epidemics or even pandemics caused by animals, where the improper management of veterinary waste has enhanced the risk of contagion, while the proper waste management method has decreased this risk – mad cow disease, SARS epidemics, swine influenza, avian influenza. Dioxins were also found in feed products which were further transferred from a food product for animals to the human body, thus causing severe diseases, including cancer, and revealing the consequences of improper use of certain animal by-products on public health and animals.

Instead of conclusion

Regardless of their origin, animal by-products not intended for human consumption pose a potential risk for public and animal health, as well as for the environment. This risk should be controlled by directing these products towards safe disposal means or by using them for various purposes, provided that strict measures meant to reduce or even eliminate the health risks in questions are applied.

And this is what we are doing here, at Stericycle.