The Original Recyclers
As far back as AD 130 to 200 the process of recycling animal by-products was being used to produce soap as a means for cleansing the body. Later, during the times of the Roman Empire, soap was first recognized as a product that could be used to clean laundry. Next came the process of making wax for candles from recycled animal by-products which became very popular in Europe in the 13th century. By the 19th century the practice of recycling animal by-products would be called rendering.
As the wheels of the Industrial Revolution began to turn in the United States, rendering and soap manufacturing progressed together. Today, rendering in the United States has grown to an industry processing and converting over 54 billion pounds of raw material into animal proteins, fat and many other useful products.
One of the largest rendering companies in the world is located here in Cumming, Georgia. This company, American Proteins, Inc., was established in 1949 by Leland Bagwell. Mr. Bagwell created the business to service a fast-growing poultry industry; he started with only a handful of local producers making their by-products into feed for chickens. Today, American Proteins, Inc. and its owner and CEO Tommy Bagwell operate five poultry by-product conversion plants located in Georgia and Alabama. Currently, about 40% of every chicken processed in the South ends up as a by-product after being re-processed by American Proteins, Inc. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why American Proteins processes 5 billion pounds of raw material into over 750,000 tons of finished products each year. The finished products are used as ingredients for pet food, feed for animals, utilized as organic fertilizer and as raw material in the production of bio-diesel.