In simple terms, a byproduct is a secondary or incidental product derived during the synthesis or production of something else. It is not the primary product, rather it is a binary product yielded during the creation of the main product. The byproduct is simply a minor product whose output is an inevitable result of a particular manufacturing process; the main process is not affected or altered by this derivative.

In Production

The byproduct is a common outcome in the majority of production processes. It often happens that along with the main output, a secondary product is also yielded. This minor output is called the byproduct. It is in a lesser quantity and also is of lower overall value as compared to the main product.

Value and Uses of Byproducts

The byproduct of a production process is by convention not inventoried or assigned a resalable value due to its lack of industrial or commercial worth. The net realizable value (NRV) from the byproduct is typically filed as “other income” specifying its worth as secondary.

The value of a byproduct can vary. Some byproducts are of marketable value and can be useful in certain industrial processes, whereas others are simple waste products. In this case, a discarded byproduct needs to be separately and safely disposed of. Since this disposal process can be a costly process which adds to the production expenditures already incurred, industries tend to limit byproducts.

Examples of Byproducts

In several industries, it is difficult to run the production processes without creating byproducts along the way. In particular in the animal and vegetation industries, byproduct are unavoidable. Some common examples of byproducts are:

  • Food fines from the cereal processing
  • Molasses in sugar refining
  • Fruit oils recovered during the peeling of processed fruit
  • Straw from grain harvesting
  • Salt yielded during the desalination of water
  • Ash from fuel combustion
  • Buttermilk in the manufacture of butter

Hazardous Byproducts

There are some byproducts that can be harmful or hazardous. In certain chemical reactions such as nuclear fuel processing, the resulting byproducts cannot be marketed as part of the main product and are too dangerous to be marketed individually. Disposing them off in their original form can result in pollution or other harmful effects. Thus they must be processed and disposed in a proper, safe way. Where this treatment process is not possess, companies need to find a way to contain these byproducts.