Published: March 4, 2021 By

The factory production of mass amounts of meat is proven to take a toll on our climate and land due to overgrazing, methane emissions, and fossil fuel use. But how does the meat industry contribute to the waste problem? Waste from this industry is much massive and should be addressed.

What kind of waste is produced in the production of meat?

  • Waste in the meat industry is produced during slaughtering.

  • The livestock industry produces 1.4 billion pounds of waste per year (The Atlantic)

  • Waste material includes the parts of the animal that cannot be used as meat (NCBI)

    • Bones

    • Tendons

    • Skin

    • Contents of the gastro-intestinal tract

    • Blood

    • Internal organs

  • The meat industry can utilize this waste in order to remain profitable, however the processes of utilizing animal waste causes environmental damage.

  • 60 percent of the animal used for its meat  has to be either recycled or disposed of. (The Atlantic)

  • Raw meat requires plastic packaging. This packaging ends up in landfills, incinerators or in our oceans.

Environmental costs of meat By-products

  • Meat industry waste waters are 5 to 10 times as strong as domestic sewage and contain much higher nitrogen, phosphorus and grease concentrations

    • Nitrogen, phosphorus, and grease concentrations in our sewage systems seep into and damage soil and cause acidification in bodies of water. 

  • Treatment of this water uses a ton of fossil fuel energy and is extremely costly. (Steffen article)

  • Burial pits are capable of holding tens of thousands of pounds of carcasses. Some states require permits to dig them, others don't (The Atlantic)

  • The leaching of chloride, ammonium, nitrate, coliforms, and E. coli intensifies with rainfall and oozes for decades after burial (it can take 25 years for carcasses to decompose). (The Atlantic)

  • Water used to feed animals is then discharged from those animals, creating wastewater.

  • Significant air pollution is created in meat production. 

  • Manure emits ammonia, methane, CO2, and other pollutants (cleanair.org)

What can you do to reduce this damage?

  • Do your best to purchase meat from small farmers. Small meat farmers produce less waste than large corporations. 

  • Choose meat wisely

    • Poultry (like chicken) produce less waste than red meats like beef. 

      • One calorie of chicken protein requires 5.6 calories of fossil fuels, compared with reported figures of about 14 calories for pork and 20 to 40 for beef. (The Kindest Cut)

  • Reduce your meat consumption

  • Buy meat from responsible local farmers

  • Try McCauly family farm!