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Pigs might fly but their fat shouldn’t, environmental experts warn
Image generated using Dall-E AI.


Call PETA: Europe Turns To Pork Fat For Aviation Biofuel

Pigs fly now … but it’s super-gross.

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A number of recent EU subsidies originally meant to encourage the use of sustainably-sourced biofuel for road and air travel have had some unintended consequences. Namely, they’ve doubled demand for biodiesel sourced from rendered animal fats — and that’s creating some unanticipated ecological knock-on effects, according to a new report.

Europe’s airlines are quickly tying up the supply of available animal fats to produce lower-cost biofuel — and, on the surface, that’s a pretty benign statement. Dig a little deeper, however, and some truly insane statistics start to come out.

My personal favorite? According to sustainable transport advocacy group Transport & Environment (T&E), a flight from New York to Paris powered solely by animal fat-sourced biofuels requires some 8,800 dead pigs.

Yeah — someone call PETA.

animal fats used for biodiesel in Europe

Image courtesy of T&E.

“For years we’ve been burning animal fats in cars without drivers knowing,” says Barbara Smailagic, biofuels specialist at T&E. “Now they will be fueling your next flight. But that can’t be sustained without depriving other sectors.”

One of the knock-on effects of the animal fat subsidies has been a spike in their cost. Limiting the supply drives up prices for other users of rendered fats in areas such as soap, cosmetics, and pet-food manufacturing — and that’s led to those industries making a switch to palm oil. And palm oil, despite being plant-based, could be making things worse for the environment than just burning diesel.

“If unsustainable materials are replacing the current uses of animal fats, the shift in uses can therefore significantly undermine the climate benefits of using animal fats biofuels,” reads the T&E report. “In the oleochemicals industry and pet food industry for example, palm oil is considered as the most likely substitute because of it having the most similar properties to animal fats and being the cheapest option available. If virgin palm oil were to substitute animal fats, CO2 emissions of animal fats biofuels could be up to 1.7 times worse than conventional diesel.”

There are even more issues, serious environmental fallout. The vast plantations that have sprung up to meet the new demand for palm oil have led to sweeping deforestation in countries like Indonesia.

On the plus side, the diesels smell like bacon now.

Sources: T&E, via Motorpasión; South China Morning Post.

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I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and have been a part of the Important Media Network since 2008. You can find me here, working on my Volvo fansite, riding a motorcycle around Chicago, or chasing my kids around Oak Park.


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