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Innovations

Pet Food Brands Take a Bite Out of Plastic Waste

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Brands' program with rePurpose Global has removed 2,000 tons of plastic waste from the environment, the equivalent of more than 100 million plastic bottles.

There’s power in numbers, which is why 20 pet food brands from the US, Canada, and New Zealand have now joined in a partnership with rePurpose Global, claimed as the world’s leading Plastic Action Platform. The result: 2,000 tons of plastic waste have been recovered from nature over the past year, which is the equivalent of 111 million plastic bottles or 1 billion plastic bags in weight.

The program reached the 20 members milestone — we learned there are 15 US brands, four from Canada, and one from NZ — who have pledged to reduce plastic pollution in two ways:

  • Reducing the plastic in their packaging and supply chains;
  • Financing the recovery of nature-bound plastic waste through rePurpose Global’s social enterprise waste projects.

It’s estimated that the pet-food industry produces 300 million pounds of plastic waste yearly just in the US, most packaging made from non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle materials. This has resulted in 99% of all pet food packaging being thrown away rather than recycled, ending up in landfills or oceans.

Certified Plastic Neutral and Plastic Negative brands, including Earth Animal, Nature’s Logic, Pet Finn, and Animal Essentials, combat plastic waste while creating a positive socio-economic impact for marginalized waste workers.

For example, Earth Animal is a pet health and wellness company dedicated to enhancing and preserving the quality of life for animals, people, and the Earth. As a Plastic Neutral brand with rePurpose Global, Earth Animal is pioneering a return to retail recycling take-back program called FlexForward, a pilot program designed to support packaging, recycling technologies, and the collection of plastic pet food and treat bags for recycling. It’s offsetting the impact of its supply chain by financing the removal of as much plastic waste from nature as they use.

“Plastic is a huge problem in the pet food industry,” says Stewart Shanley, CEO of Earth Animal. “While we are making strides to reduce plastic waste from our packaging and supply chain, we wanted to make an impact right now. Our partnership with rePurpose Global is the first step to systemic environmental change — financing waste management infrastructure and empowering marginalized workers fighting the plastic waste crisis on the frontlines. We call on others in our industry to do the same.”

The on-site video shows how RePurpose Global works in the state of Kerala in south India.

Through the partnership rePurpose Global is financing the recovery of critical plastic that would otherwise be destined for waterways, poorly managed landfills, or burnt across four countries: Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, and India. These countries experience the highest rates of plastic leakage into the environment. These partnerships have expanded waste collection where infrastructure is limited while creating additional income streams for nearly 5,000 waste workers.

"The Pet Sustainability Coalition has identified packaging pollution as one of our industry's greatest environmental challenges,” says Melissa Bauer, director of strategic initiatives and sustainability with the Pet Sustainability Coalition. “We are excited to see many of our members are working with rePurpose Global to offset their packaging footprint while also investing in socially equitable environmental solutions directly within the global communities most heavily impacted.”

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According to Svanika Balasubramanian, CEO and Co-Founder of rePurpose Global, 380 million tonnes of plastic is produced globally every year. “The majority ends up in nature. We are living in a plastic epidemic and the collective sense of urgency among pet owners and the larger pet industry is palpable. Now more than ever, there is a critical need for meaningful partnerships to tackle plastic pollution the world over. Our coalition of brands and consumers are moving the needle forward and spearheading action before it is too late.”

In total, 230 brands across 26 countries and three continents are working with rePurpose Global to measure, reduce, and offset their plastic footprint. The program recovers 14 million pounds of plastic from the environment yearly and is positively impacting more than 10,000 waste workers and their families.

For more about rePurpose Global, see these 2022 articles at PlasticsToday: Defunkify and rePurpose Global Recover 41,000+ Pounds of Plastic Waste, published in March, and RePurpose Global Partners with Personal-Care Brands to Stamp Out Waste, published in February.

 

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