Like an unwelcome guest, packaging can hang around long after the party’s over with devastating effects on our wildlife. Scientists estimate that a flabbergasting 8 million tons of the stuff ends up in our beautiful oceans each year! That's why we're dedicating this weeks blog to our eco-friendly packaging and efforts to tread more lightly on the planet.
Thanks to legends like Sir David Attenborough, we’re all more woke and conscious of our impact. This has seen protests and commitments by businesses and governments across the board. For example as a result of campaigning by Friends of the Earth, a new EU law has been introduced which will ban certain plastic products in every EU country by mid 2021.
Why have packaging at all?
You might be thinking "If packaging is such a problem, then why use any at all?" Most importantly, it plays an essential role in protecting our food. We all want our food to arrive fresh, safely and in an appetising manner. After all, nobody would want to eat a lasagne that’s ridden open top down the M1, even the greediest of our furry friends.
Secondly, we need packaging to convey important information. Customers quite rightly want to know what flavour they are buying, what’s inside, who’s made it etc. Packaging is the medium through which we communicate this information, not only is it helpful for our customers, it’s the law.
It’s fair to say that some brands and some products have far too much packaging Reddit even has its own subreddit on the issue of EgregiousPackaging. The good news is that recently more companies are making efforts to reduce the amount of packaging they employ.
We follow the trusty mantra of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as an approach, with the extra option of “compost” as an alternative to recycling where appropriate. Different kinds of food require different kinds of packaging, some need to be stronger than others, some need barrier protection against moisture and air, whilst others need to protect the food in transit. We carefully assess the needs of every product against the packaging technology available to find the most appropriate and eco-friendly packaging option.
Plastic is evil right?
The dreaded P word... plastic! Plastic is (relatively) cheap, easy to use and manufacture and is ubiquitous in packaging. It’s also often disposed of carelessly and as a result is responsible for a huge number of environmental disasters. So we should avoid it at all costs right...? Not necessarily.
Technically speaking, plastics is a catch all term for a huge number of materials, some with incredible properties. They boast enviable strength to weight ratios, flexibility, barrier properties, the list goes on. Plastics allow us to reduce food waste, reduce the energy in transporting goods and new technology means some plastics are 100% plant based rather than derived from crude oil. The key is how we use it, not using more than is necessary and when we do, disposing of it responsibly. Ideally plastics would be used many times over before they reach there end of life and if we can achieve the gold standard of a circular economy then we would drastically reduce our impact on the environment.
Below we've listed the primary packaging we employ for our products, why we chose them and how you can dispose of them:
Our Compostable Dog and Cat Treat Bags
The latest addition to our eco-friendly packaging options is our 100% plastic free and compostable treat bags.The majority of our treats are made in the UK, using responsibly sourced ingredients such as British or Irish meat, just like all our other goodies. They're baked in eco-ovens powered by woody biomass, then packed lovingly by hand into the compostable paper bags. True, they might occasionally look a little crumpled, but as the saying goes beauty lies within. It's all part of the beauty of eco-packaging and we love it, especially the fact that if disposed of correctly, these bags are gone without a trace. P.S. the empty bags also go down a treat with cats and dogs. Who says you need to splash out £20 on a new toy when you've got an empty treat bag?
How to dispose of the treat bags?
Simply pop the empty bag in your food and garden waste once finished to allow them to properly compost. The reality is that nothing can biodegrade in landfill due to the anaerobic conditions (even carrots remain bright orange on the inside after 10 years), so if they end up in there they'll stick around for far too long.
Our pet treat options:
- To keep those pearly whites white, we have our daily Dog Dental Chews and new Cat Dental Treats, designed to attack plaque and freshen breathe, all whilst being gentle on tummies with our superfood slippery elm.
- For doggies we also have our brand new Softies Training Treats and Calming Turkey Nibbles, the perfect healthy dog treat for any occasion. Smudge loves them as a pre-bedtime treat to help her nod off into her rabbit-chasing dreams.
Our Recyclable Dry Dog and Cat Food Bags
Our dry food recipes are served in Mono PE bag which are 100% recyclable and provide the perfect barrier to keep the food inside fresh.
We've explored (and continue to explore) options for compostable packaging for our dry food bags but haven't yet found a suitable option. Our recipes are high in British meat (up to 77%) and require a strong moisture barrier ,which means compostable paper based options aren't suitable. The ones we've tested have often turned the meat rancid due to the barrier limitations - gross!
Additionally as the packaging degrades over time it can cause other issues impacting on product quality. For example we've spotted ink leakage/seepage on other products in the market.
How to dispose of our dry food bags?
They can easily be recycled with your plastic bags at your supermarket to avoid contributing to landfill. Check out our video below for our 'how to'.
Our Recyclable Wet Cat and Dog Food Packaging
For the sleeves of our wet food we use responsible FSC certified paper, helping keep forests alive for future generations.
Some our trays are made from PP5 and are white rather than black, which allows them to be recyclable. Did you know black trays can’t be detected by recycling sorters?
Sadly those pesky lids are the one component of our packaging family that we can't yet recycle. In order to protect against oxidation and keep the food fresh we need to use a plastic laminate, which as of yet can't be recycled. Watch this space though, as we're working on it!
Our new wet cat food tins are made of steel and are 100% recyclable, so when your kitty or pup has finsished tucking in just give the tin a rinse and pop into your household recycling.
How to dispose of our wet food trays and sleeves?
For the sleeves simply pop it in with your normal paper for recycling. The same applies for the outer case of our Variety Packs. The trays can also be recycled by most councils curb-side along with your plastics, although it's always best to check with your local council. In addition to this, our cat food tins and outer sleeve are 100% recyclable. If your council doesn't recyle certain items you can find your closest recycling point via recyclenow.
Eco friendly packaging: tins vs trays?
When we consider our impact, we look at the full supply chain - packaging plays just one part. That's why we make everything in the UK and Ireland to reduce food miles and minimise our carbon footprint, sourcing locally where possible.
So why don’t we use tins and avoid plastic fully for our trays? Yes, tins are more readily recyclable BUT there are two issues which make them less eco friendly than trays.
- Due to the size and shape, significantly fewer cans fit in vehicles than trays.More efficient logistics = fewer travels = better for the planet! ?
- One of our biggest bug bears is that the machinery required to make small cat and dog tins, trays and pouches isn't available in the UK. So most of those tins you're buying for your kitty or single trays/pouches for your pooch travels hundreds if not thousands of miles across the globe from Eastern Europe. Sadly many even come from as far as Thailand.
A broader view of the supply chain
With the tin example in mind, it’s important not to consider packaging in isolation but to view the overall supply chain. Working closely with the University of Bath we’ve conducted a life cycle assessment to determine which areas of the chain hold the biggest impact. That's how we understood that food miles have a greater impact than packaging. This allows us to make informed decisions to minimise our environmental impact. We're hoping to challenge some much needed conversations in the industry.
The future of eco friendly packaging
We've recently spotted some exciting developments like sugar beet and potato starch packaging. We can’t wait to explore these eco-friendly packaging options when they become available, to make sure we're always acting as ambassadors within our industry.
Have you come across anything exciting that you think we should consider? Let us know in the comments or pop an email to email@example.com.