The Original Recyclers

May 15, 2017 - Vancouver, B.C.

When showing visitors a Marine Harvest salmon farm, one question often comes up: “What do you do with the fish parts that aren’t eaten?” That’s a great question and one that has a great answer.

The fish waste goes to West Coast Reduction Ltd. at the Port of Metro Vancouver.

West Coast Reduction Ltd. is Western Canada’s largest independent rendering facility, providing a modern take on the ancient tradition of turning food waste into useful products. While today’s technology may be new, the art of turning animal fats into soaps and candles dates back thousands of years.

“Rendering is the original recycling,” says Doug Davidson, Operations Manager at the Vancouver plant. “Simply put, it’s the chemical-free process of breaking down animal by-products into fats and proteins.”

Rendering involves heat and mechanical energy to remove the water and to create stable proteins and oils. For fish, this is a four-step process:  (1) cooking and sterilizing, (2) drying, (3) separation and polishing of oils and meals (centrifuging), and (4) milling finished goods to meet feed quality standards.

Each year, West Coast Reduction recycles about 250,000 tonnes of food waste into valuable fat (oil) and protein (meal powder) products that are utilized in pet and livestock feeds, biofuels, cosmetics, fertilizers, lubricants, soaps and detergents. 

The Vancouver plant accepts raw materials from cattle, pig, sheep, chicken, turkey, and also used cooking oil – significantly reducing the strain on western Canada’s landfills and sewer systems. Fish and seafood waste has traditionally been a small part of West Coast Reduction’s business, relying on raw products from the variable wild-commercial catch. But since aquaculture began in British Columbia some 30 years ago, fish farms and processing plants now supply consistent fresh raw product that is quickly rendered into valuable oils and proteins. Marine Harvest provides West Coast Reduction with 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes annually, which is about half of West Coast Reduction’s annual supply of salmon material.

“It’s a very efficient process,” adds Doug. “We are able to utilize over 99 per cent of the materials we receive, which are recycled into feed ingredients and downstream consumer products we use in our homes every day.” 

Learn more about the original recyclers at