Agriculture protein waste has value

The competitiveness of Alberta and Canada’s agriculture industry is connected to developing value-added products that will help sustain the industry, as well as finding ways to reduce its environmental footprint. With grants from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), Drs. Aman Ullah and Jianping Wu, both from the University of Alberta, are working on separate innovative projects producing environmentally-friendly, value-added goods from poultry, cattle and pork by-products and spent hens.

Dr. Ullah’s research centres on developing a simple, efficient and green method of extracting fat and protein from poultry by-products (skin, feet and feathers) and spent hens for use in food and non-food packaging.

“The continuous and sustainable growth of the poultry industry, including increased poultry consumption, is leading to an oversupply of by-products,” shares Ullah. Presently, these by-products are considered waste materials for the poultry industry and egg producers.

Ullah continues, “In addition, excessive use of fossil fuel-derived plastics in packaging applications is leading to environmental pollution and waste disposal problems.” Ullah’s environmentally-friendly packaging will require less energy to produce and will translate into less waste materials sent to landfills. As well, with an abundant supply of this cheap, raw material, the packaging, poultry and egg industries will all benefit from the successful outcomes of this research.

Dr. Wu will also make use of agricultural wastes, primarily spent fowls and by-products from the cattle and pork industries (muscle trim, carcass offal and bone) to develop formaldehyde-free wood adhesives. Formaldehyde-free adhesives using plant proteins are already available in the marketplace. What makes Dr. Wu’s project different is his use of animal proteins from waste material that is not fit for human and animal consumption.

The use of formaldehyde is already regulated in some countries. Alberta’s research industry has an eye to the future in developing formaldehyde-free products before Canada follows suit. To make the products viable for the wood industry, Dr. Wu is hoping to develop competitively priced products that perform similarly to petroleum-based, formaldehyde-containing adhesives.

“Protein-based adhesives are not new, being in use for several hundred years. It was reported recently that collagen-based glue, as the main component, was used in the construction of the Khoja Zaynuddin mosque (constructed c. AD 1540) in the World Heritage Site of Bukhara,” says Dr. Wu. “Our glue technology (patent application) was developed two years ago. Funding from ALMA will allow us to move the project a step closer for industry adoption.”

“Successfully developing value-added bio-products will definitely benefit Alberta’s agriculture industry and we are excited to see the results of these innovative projects,” says Dr. Susan Novak, ALMA’s research manager. “Using sustainable and cheap resources to produce environmentally sound products are pluses all around.”

For more information please contact Dr. Jianping Wu.

ALMA provides ideas, information and investment to help Alberta’s livestock and meat industry become more profitable, sustainable and internationally respected.

Contact: Nicole Paradis, Communications Officer, 780-638-1932 or

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For more information on this project and other ALMA Research and Development projects, visit