Darling Ingredients: The Greenest Company on the Planet

Dec 13, 2021

The world’s population is growing. By 2050, there will be an anticipated 9.7 billion people living on planet Earth, all with their own individual needs when it comes to food, living space and quality of life. Such growth brings its own problems, as Randall C. Stuewe, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Darling Ingredients Inc, is all too aware. “More people on the planet, more industrialization, is causing the climate to change.” Industries around the world are, with the rise of climate change, discovering a need for greater sustainability across their operations and methods. This has been the core of Darling Ingredients mission, to innovate solutions with sustainable benefits for its partners and clients.

Darling reduces waste by collecting and repurposing natural co-products from the food production industry. Operating since 1882, the company has watched the world come to understand the environmental benefits of such work. “Darling was green before green was cool, we’ve always been the original recycler.” Randall C. Stuewe is very familiar with Darling’s approach. “We were the guys that were taking products that were either going to be left out in the field, put in a landfill, composted, and converted them back into ingredients.”

However, an important issue facing recyclers today revolves around what can be done with used materials, and how they can be repurposed in a positive manner. Darling is developing solutions with sustainable applications that can be shared with its partners.

Multinational restaurant chain, Wingstop, is one such partner. DAR PRO Solutions is Darling’s restaurant services brand and it partners with multinational restaurant chains like Wingstop to manage and remove their used cooking oil. Wingstop’s Chief Operating Officer, Mahesh Sadarangani, explains his company’s role. “We started testing DAR PRO in our corporate locations in 2019 and saw overwhelming success, not only from a sustainability standpoint, but also from a team member safety standpoint. Today we operate DAR PRO in over 400 locations, and then they are incorporated in all of our new builds after 2020.”

Waste material can be an invaluable resource when utilized effectively. The used cooking oil from restaurants by DAR PRO is then upcycled, thanks to its joint venture renewable diesel production facility, Diamond Green Diesel.

This venture takes waste feed stocks, fats and used cooking oils, and converts them into a cleaner-burning, renewable diesel fuel. “Renewable diesel is remarkable in that it matches the performance of regular diesel but with up to 85% less greenhouse gas emissions,” says Sandy Dudley, EVP of Renewables for Darling Ingredients. “This combined with renewable diesel’s tolerance to a wide range of temperatures and its acceptance into virtually any pipeline distribution system makes it a truly universal solution to diesel emissions.”

Darling prides itself on developing innovative and forward-facing solutions. The best way to develop such solutions involves examining not just the trends of the moment, but also those of the future. One way that Darling is doing this is by establishing links with the insect protein industry through its innovative EnviroFlight business.

With the growing human population, the food sector is discovering the need to implement measures that will ensure tomorrow’s society is provided for. “People understand there’s a need to grow more protein to feed the growing population of humans in the world.” Says EnviroFlight President, Liz Koutsos, “We can grow one thousand times the amount of protein with an insect production facility than we can with chickens or pigs or cows. So, there’s tremendous interest in growing insects to either feed animals to feed humans, or to feed humans directly.” EnviroFlight makes use of waste products, diverting them away from landfills to be used in the process of growing Black Soldier Fly larvae – a significant source of protein. Such protein will first be incorporated into pet food, but Darling’s support demonstrates the pioneering spirit that it brings to its dealings with other groups, in addition to its future focused approach.

Stuewe understands what Darling can offer, and the company’s future remains an important subject to him. “I see Darling playing a significant role going forward around the world. We’ve chartered a five-year plan here to grow Darling into the largest renewable ingredient producer in the world.” The need for partnerships, similarly, is a cornerstone of Darling’s approach, with the company able to have a greater impact through collaboration than it would alone. “When I look at Darling,” says Stuewe, “I say we are the greenest company on the Earth.” This view is well-founded, and the sustainable activities that Darling is engaging with certainly demonstrate the company’s commitment to prove this to its partners and customers alike.

‘Repurposing bio-nutrients from the agri-food industry residuals.’

Documentary and article produced by TBD Media group