Environmental sustainability in the petfood industry is “severely lacking,” according to plant-based dog food brand Petaluma. Acknowledging that part of the impact is caused by the sourcing of ingredients, the company mentions packaging as a big part of the industry, and the “focus” of sustainability efforts for many brands.
Using examples of their own dog food, the Sweet Potato Jerky recipe is made from home compostable materials which includes a plant-based cellulose layer and plant-derived ‘bioplastic’. Bioplastic refers to plastic materials sourced from biomass sources such as vegetable fats and oils, recycled food waste, etc.
Citing their research into what it is customers like about the packaging, the company said that compostable, plant-based options are the most sustainable choice when available, as customers are able to throw it away in their own compost bin or curbside compost (when available).
However, due to the nature of the packaging the bags can only withstand one pound of product and are unable to be used for heavier products. Compostable packaging absorbs moisture, so is best for dry and low-moisture content items. It tears more easily than conventional plastic, impacting on the shipping and transporting of the bags. It also costs the company more and requires customer education to ensure the bags don’t end up in landfill and are properly composted.
Traditional petfood bags use layers of different plastic materials, including paper or aluminium. Petaluma’s baked food packaging uses one paper layer and one plastic layer, which reduces approximately 40 percent of the plastic content when compared with conventional dog food bags.
Multi-layer bags are not recyclable as the plastic and paper are difficult to separate and reuse. The company explained they were in the process of switching to a new bag, made of mono-material packaging, which is able to handle heavy products like petfood and is the recommended solution according to packaging sustainability consultants. However, recycling systems in the US (and worldwide) are complicated and regional and may not necessarily recycle mono-material packaging.
Boxes and inserts the company uses are made from 100 percent post-consumer Kraft paper which can be recycled by nearly every curbside recycling program, as the company hopes to reduce waste for subscription orders in the near future by shipping in a reusable box.
Petaluma “prioritise sustainability,” they explained, and this year became the third US petfood brand to receive a Certified B Corporation in recognition of upholding best practices for social and environmental sustainability. In addition to this, their bakery runs on solar energy and they support non-profits fighting against climate change.
Other US petfood brands which have received the certification include Guardian Pet Food Company and Only Natural Pet.
For more information on Petaluma visit their website, HERE.
Image credit: Petaluma