Seeing as it's officially B Corp Month 2023, you might be wondering how you can make smarter choices to reduce your fur baby's impact on the environment. As individuals, our buying decision is one of the most powerful tools we have for living more sustainably. What's more, our floof''s can't make the choice for themselves, so we've got double the responsibility to do right by them too! However, we know it can seem bewildering to cypher through all the information about products to make the best choice. That's why we've created this checklist to help you. By ensuring you pay attention to each of these areas, from packaging to where the cat food is made, you'll be equipped to make the greenest choice you can.
1. 3rd Party Certification
One of the best ways to determine if your cat or kitten food is eco-friendly is to look for third-party certification. It's all well and good a brand giving it the big'un that they're "THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY CAT FOOD ON THE PLANET', but if they don't have anyone else backing up the claim, it's likely all talk. You should easily be able to find this out either by looking at the product packaging or via the brand's website.
In the UK there are a number of organizations that evaluate the environmental impact of brands and products. One of our recommended is B Corporation. To become a B Corp, companies must go through a thorough and lengthy verification process. This covers all angles of sustainability, including environment, governance, workers, community, and customers. Is it easy? Nope! And as one of only two pet food companies to certify in the UK, we can say that first hand. If you'd like to explore some of our fellow brilliant B Corp's, you can check out the full directory here.
Other organizations you can look out for include:
- 1% for the Planet - this means the company is donating 1% of sales each year to environmental causes
- The Ethical Company Organisation
- FutureFit Business
- Planet Mark
Next up, it's time to play with the packaging (our cat Boo's favorite activity!) in order to work out what it's made of. Due to the meaty nature of cat food (our feline friends are obligate carnivores and need a good bit of meat in their diet to thrive), the first thing to ensure is that it has an appropriate moisture barrier. This makes paper among many other materials unviable. If used, the oils within the food would slowly seep through the bag, causing the food within to spoil, causing tummy upsets or being disposed of in the bin.
Therefore the main materials used to package cat food are either plastic, a mix of paper and plastic, or steel (for wet cat food trays). Every material has its pros and cons, and you have to consider not only how it's produced, but its end of life too (our next point). It's also best to never jump to assumptions and generalize a material as being bad or good, as it's never as simple as that. For example 'plastic' has become almost a dirty word, with many looking to entirely avoid it. However in practice, plastic can be brilliant and eco-material. Eco-cat food brands should be open and honest about what materials they're using, so you should easily be able to find them out on their website. For our range of dry cat food, we use Mono PE bags, for our wet food steel tins, and for our treats Mono PE bags.
3. Packaging Disposal
This moves us swiftly onto our next point, opting for packaging that can either be recycled or composted at end of life. The other option is landfill (general waste). It's essential to dispose of the packaging correctly, and if possible avoid anything going into your general waste bin, which will end up in a landfill - even if it's compostable! Did you know that due to the anaerobic conditions of commercial landfill facilities, anything that ends up in there, even if it's biodegradable or compostable, won't compost? Therefore if you don't have a "Food and Waste Bin" you should opt for home compostable materials.
We've worked hard to ensure our range is recyclable, and are proud to say 100% of our cat food packaging is now recyclable.
The ingredients that go into your kitty's food contribute the most to its greenhouse gas footprint. As our kitties are obligate carnivores, they require a high meat diet in order to thrive. By know we all know that meat production has one of the highest impacts, however, there are still ways you can choose a more eco-friendly recipe.
Firstly not all meats have the same impact, as the chart below shows. By opting for a pollo-pescatarian diet for your kitty, and avoiding red meat and dairy, you can make a big impact whilst still giving your kitty deliciously tasty cat food!
Secondly, you can also look for sustainable certifications on the ingredients used in your cat's food. There are many labels such as MSC, ASC, Fair Trade, Organic, Free Run, Cage-Free ... the list goes on. You can check out a fuller list and description of all the different options here.
Thirdly, even if you find a brilliant-sounding product, if your cat is not going to eat it, it's pointless. Therefore whatever you go for, it still needs to be super tasty - without relying on artificial additives and flavours to do so!
It's all well and good exploring the brand and product, but ultimately it's got to get to you too! Of course, if you shop at a supermarket, the delivery will depend on how you pick it up. If you'd rather it be delivered, you'll want to look for a carbon-neutral delivery service.
5. Manufacturing location
Food miles are less important than the ingredients themselves but still contribute to the overall emissions of a product. Therefore if you have the option between two very similar cat foods, but one is made more locally, that's an easy decision to make.
Hopefully, you now feel equipped to make an informed decision about what makes a cat food "greener" or "more eco" than another, and which areas to watch out for. Don't forget if you do transition over to a new cat food, do so gradually over a minimum of 2 weeks to avoid upset tums. Simply mix increasing proportions of the new food to the old food until you get to 100%.
If you do have any questions about our Scrumbles range of eco cat food, don't hesitate in popping us a message email@example.com
Chart Credit: Greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram for different food groups. Adapted from Dr. Hannah Ritchie/Our World in Data (2020) Data source: Poore & Nemecek (2018). Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.