Reusing & Repurposing

Why reusing and repurposing is better than recycling


At Westaway Sausages around 10% of all our expenditure is on buying sausage casing. Of this some 96% is natural sheep or hog casing. It is often said that you can use everything in a pig except the squeak. At Westaways we say that if you kill an animal then you need to respect and value every part of that animal.

Van Hessen do exactly this with pigs and have provided us with some detail. The average weight of a pig is 119kg, of this 50% (59kg) is used as meat, but the fat, bones, organs, blood, and skin all have uses. From fertiliser to petfood, from pharmaceutical and veterinary ingredients to feed additives, and of course our valuable sausage casing. Only 5% remains with little or no commercial value other than biomass. Even this is now being looked by companies like Elemental a company based near us in Devon.  Maybe soon we will be able to valorise the whole pig.

At IFFA recently we were discussing casing and the sustainability of the supply chain. We prefer to get our casing delivered in plastic barrels or tubs. These present a problem for some companies who ask Van Hessen to collect them when they are empty so they can be recycled.

We see this in a different way, we do not see recycling as being our first consideration on helping the environment. Recycling has been over-praised through the years, it still requires a lot of energy, and there is always the risk of plastic not being recycled and ending up as “fugitive” waste in soil or marine environments.

Here are a few of the ways we repurpose the tubs and barrels. This saves energy, it causes no pollution, it’s fun and very useful.

  • Fruit bush containers
  • Water butts
  • Tomato planters
  • Fishing net storage
  • Live crab chests
  • Bait storage
  • Workshop containers
  • Animal feed containers
  • Log containers
  • Curing and preserving