Scientific American recently reported that Sweden uses a pretty strange source for some of its heating fuel: rabbits. Stockholm has an overabundance of the cotton-tailed critters, and the hungry bunnies are decimating city parks. To cut back on bunny populations and create a greener source of heating fuel for Swedes, city employees round up the rabbits, shoot them, freeze them and then ship them to a heating plant where they’re incinerated. And yes, the thought of it makes our soul hurt, too.
While killing animals to use them for fuel is rather uncommon, using animal byproducts to make biofuels happens pretty regularly. Swedish company Konovex creates the bunny-based fuel, but that plant is a subsidiary of Danish company Daka Biodiesel, which makes automotive and heating fuels from vegetable and animal oils and fats. Sweden often uses slaughterhouse trimmings to create a methane-based biogas that powers taxicabs in the southern part of the country. And even the US is getting into the animal-based biofuel market: ConocoPhillips partnered with Tyson to make biofuel from chicken and pork fats that would otherwise be added into pet foods, cosmetics or soaps.
Biofuels can be made from a variety of animal fats, including fat from humans (though of course, this is illegal. We can’t help but wonder whether green funerals will start incorporating this practice into its burial methods, though!). And while it’s stomach-turning to think of it, using animal byproducts or slaughterhouse waste to create eco-friendly biofuels actually seems pretty innovative. Killing Peter Rabbit to heat your home seems a little brutal to us, though. We may be in the midst of an energy crisis, but we’re also experiencing a global food crisis. Wouldn’t eating the rabbits be a little more savory than burning their frozen carcasses?
Lead photo by Blutiger