Home Petfood Process Petmill Management Looking to reduce pollution and waste generated by the petfood industry

Looking to reduce pollution and waste generated by the petfood industry

Looking to reduce pollution and waste generated by the petfood industry

Pollution and preservation of the environment is a topic that concerns not only our industry: it is one of the issues to be addressed in the 2030 Agenda, a global action plan that includes the 17 SDGs (sustainable development goals), promoted by the UN.

Global situation and its impact on us

The global environmental situation is far from ideal: Climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, excess pollution or rising sea levels are events generated by human action.

Production, consumption and life itself, is a cycle made up of other smaller cycles. If we talk about environmental impact in relation to the petfood industry, we have to contemplate and take into account that, in recent years, the rise in average temperature has caused changes in plantations and crops.

From 1880 to 2012, the global average temperature rose 0.85°C. It is estimated that, for every degree of temperature increased, 5 percent of global crops are lost. Since 1981, corn, wheat and other cereal plantations have lost 40 megatons each year.

Role of companies

More and more initiatives are being developed from different areas of society aimed at making citizens aware of the importance of caring for the environment and reducing pollution levels. From the business sector, we have a fundamental role in deliberately acting to mitigate the problem.

Adapting production activities, logistics operations and processes is a challenge for any company; However, the UN, through the SDGs, provides a precise roadmap to develop and implement measures to improve the situation.

The petfood industry in relation to the environment

Currently, it is estimated that 25 percent of the total impact of meat production comes from the petfood industry in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuels, phosphates and pesticides.

Although there is still some time for testing and study before it can be implemented in the market, it is important to be aware of the latest studies and discoveries:

Ernie Ward, veterinarian and co-author of the book The Clean Pet Food Revolution, says that, “until now we had not realised how significant the contribution to climate change is in the production of petfood.”

In 2017, Gregory Okin of the Los Angeles Institute for the Environment and Sustainability published a study on the environmental impact of the production of meat for canine and feline consumption in the United States. The study found that petfood with animal ingredients for cats and dogs is responsible for approximately 64 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year: the equivalent of the emissions produced by 13.6 million cars.

Awareness of these levels of contamination led Ward to affirm that, to achieve and accept a change in the diet of pets, the key is to start thinking about nutrients instead of ingredients.

As a result, he co-founded Wild Earth, a company that produces petfood and snacks with a protein grown from mushrooms (koji), a whole food with a large amount of amino acids and up to 10 percent more protein than could be found in a beef steak. However, although this ingredient is effective, they have to add some supplements to ensure the vitamins and minerals necessary for animal welfare.

In turn, the company is already working on developing meat made in the laboratory, cultivating meat cells. Thus, it would not be required to raise animals and use natural resources. So far, they have created a prototype of rat meat for cats.

However, as much as there are advances and innovation, the problem is, essentially, in the food for cats: they need certain nutrients that they can get only from meat or ingredients from it. On the contrary, dogs have genes for amylase, which allows them to digest starch and gives the possibility of including more non-meat ingredients, due to its digestibility and palatability.

Insects are essentially a more sustainable source of animal protein. The truth is that those who have more difficulty with the idea of eating them are not the animals, but their own owners. Crickets, for example, are high in iron, omega-3 oils, and vitamin B12.


The change and the initiative to seek less polluting and environmentally damaging meat options will arise from asking ourselves if the pets of our industry, indeed, need all the meat that we are giving them in their food.

We believe that we must give dogs and cats, as well as their owners, the opportunity to challenge culinary traditions in order to combat climate change and protect the other species that inhabit our world.


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