Nfld. & Labrador

How a Northern Peninsula company is turning fish guts into facial masks

3F Waste Reduction extracts cosmetic ingredients like collagen and lanolin from waste products from fishing and agriculture.

Company on the Northern Peninsula making a killing off dead fish

Ben Wiper is the CEO of 3F Waste Recovery. His company was awarded a $12,500 grant for his company's use of waste byproducts used for beauty products. (Ben Wiper/Submitted)

A company on the Northern Peninsula is extracting cosmetic ingredients from parts of fish that are usually thrown away.

3F Waste Reduction — the 3F stands for fisheries, farming and forestry — harvests fish waste such as skins and fat to create marine collagen and oils, Ben Wiper, CEO of 3F Waste Reduction, told CBC News.

The company also manufactures glycerine and tallow from moose and sheep bones, and uses sheep's wool to make lanolin. The ingredients are largely cosmetic, and right now the company is aiming for retail and tourist markets, Wiper said.

3F Waste Reduction on the Northern Peninsula harvests waste from dead fish and other animals to create household products. (Submitted)

"I'm really only touching on the most basic stuff," he said. 

"For the most part, with any of these ingredients that we're manufacturing, the more you refine them the higher the value gets, but the more upfront investment is required in terms of equipment and the scientific knowledge that's required." 

3F Waste Reduction recently won the Overcast's Albedo Grant, which awards $12,500 provided by three sponsors to help nourish new businesses. He's also partnered with Memorial University's Grenfell campus to take things to the next level.

"What we're going to do is work on moving laboratory extraction of lanolin, tallow and glycerine from the waste materials so that it can be scaled up to a production and commercial level," Wiper said.

"They've been gracious enough to agree to go ahead and actually manufacture small volumes for me so that I can start selling it and validating the product, and then over time I will take the knowledge gained within the Grenfell campus facilities and move them into my own plant."

Products from byproducts

The first round of products coming from 3F will be from moose and sheep bone to create tallow and glycerine. The tallow will be used to manufacture candles and cooking oil, while the glycerine will be used as sweetener for food products, Wiper said.

"Glycerine as a sweetener is often used in combination with alcohol and liquor. There's a lot of buzz in the craft brewery industry right now, so I will definitely be pounding on some doors in the future for that," he said.

"On the collagen​ and oil side, the waste materials I'll be focusing on is cod and salmon skins, fins and bones."

In the future, Wiper plans to run 3F out of its own efficient factory, complete with a research and development lab, extraction room, refining room and a shipping and receiving area.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning