Generally, the environmental legacy of pet food packaging has not been a question in the forefront of people’s minds at the time of packaging design. How many people have asked the question, “is this bag going to outlive me?” Whilst the choosing of fonts, colours and images takes precedence. We live in a ‘throw away’ society but as an industry, we have to ask ourselves how many tens of thousands of tons of plastic pet food packaging are filling landfill sites up and down the country?
Recycling has been a buzz word for the last few years. However, but is not a word that bears as much importance as the word ‘profit’ as all too often aesthetics will take priority. Do you ever think of the footprint you have personally left behind as a manufacturer, supplier or user of dog food? It is something that my father, James Chester, Founder of Judge’s Choice Petfood Ltd considered in 2010, over a decade ago when he decided to switch all his bagged pet food products to a recyclable bag made by Tyler Packaging.
This has since become the basis of our approach at Judge’s Choice with every new design and re-design of packaging across our brands.
As a business these are the key considerations we use when designing our packaging:
“I do not want to be outlived by anything other than my reputation!”
Chieko Chester, Judge’s Choice CEO and daughter of James and Hiroko Chester (Founders)
When I took over Judge’s Choice from my father in 2018, I was determined to ensure that his environmental legacy was sustained going forward. The board began by conducting a thorough review and audit of all the packaging used across all the Judge’s Choice brands. We explored and implemented solutions that could further reduce the environmental footprint we made as a company. It has taken over a year, but we are now fully primed to ensure that the company is not just ticking the ‘environmental box’ but leading the way and equipped for the next decade.
The next phase, soon to be implemented will be to replace all our small packaging with compostable bags. In addition, Judge’s Choice now invests in carbon exchange programs and we are acutely aware of how we transport our goods and how this can also affect everything around us. Focus has been directed towards the use of electric vehicles, and our warehouses, wherever possible are powered by solar panels.
Ten years is a long time in our industry, hundreds of thousands of tons of plastics that will take lifetimes to degrade, just thrown away, buried in landfill.
All of us at Judge’s Choice are passionate about leaving a legacy and a positive effect on the environment. We wanted to start a program, that all manufacturers can be a part of, to agree and to understand, that there is no alternative other than to use recyclable products for all their packaging going forward.
“We have a duty as manufacturers to make the change, take responsibility and change the future.”
Chieko Chester is the CEO of Judge’s Choice Petfood Ltd.
Specialist packaging supplier Tyler Packaging recently supplied cat and dog food brand Dechra Veterinary Products with fully recyclable packaging for their new organic range of SPECIFIC ™ pet food range. SPECIFIC is one of the first pet food brands to introduce an organic option to consumers in eco-friendly packaging, offering a healthy pet food choice to environmentally conscious owners.
With previous success creating 100% recyclable packaging for pet food brands, Leamington Spa-based Tyler Packaging was perfectly placed for this project. SPECIFIC’s new packaging needed to be robust enough to protect the food, be able to run through filling lines and be strong enough to be transported without cracking or splitting. Until now, non-recyclable, multiple-layer, laminated packaging has been the only way to do this - however, Tyler Packaging has found a sustainable solution.
Whereas the packaging of competitor products use layers of different plastics that cannot be recycled, SPECIFIC’s new packaging features single layers of the same recyclable plastic with a gas barrier in between.
This makes SPECIFIC’s dry pet food bags fully recyclable, as well as lighter and stronger than PET/PE laminates of the same thickness. Not only that, but once these dry pet food bags have been used and recycled, they can be processed into granules and made into a film that can be used to make new things - including more dry pet food bags.
The new SPECIFIC organic range is now available for vets to stock and is the first step for Dechra in making all of their packaging fully recyclable by 2023.
“We are committed to providing a more ethical and environmentally sound choice for eco-conscious pet owners. It’s part of Dechra’s ‘Circle of Good’ commitment to reduce our business’s impact on the world,” says Dechra Brand Manager Claire Morgan.
Dechra’s Circle of Good has introduced a number of ways that the business can be more green, from buying from certified sustainable forests and installing solar panels on its warehouse, to partnering with ‘The Ocean Cleanup’ to clean up plastic waste in the ocean.
Adam Kay, Sales and Technical Director at Tyler Packaging, says, “This was a challenging project, and we are very pleased with the finished result. With Dechra’s Circle of Good, it was important not only we delivered a fully recyclable bag with a high barrier to keep the food fresh, but a bag that was superior to their current packaging in performance, functionality and most importantly pack weight. This enables Dechra to reduce their impact on the planet by reducing the total weight of their packaging. Using Tyler’s fully certified TOPE/PE structure we have been able to produce a bag with a high gloss finish, Easy Open feature and Easy Lock zipper for enhanced consumer experience. - all in a 100% LDPE pack. A key challenge for our industry is to be able to produce packaging designed for recycling.
Tyler Packaging are constantly pushing forward and will be launching a 30% recycled content pack and 30% bio-based pack in the very near future, all whilst remaining 100% recyclable.”
Having produced pet food for almost 160 years, Wilsons currently offer a range of cold pressed and raw frozen dog food which is made and pressed in their purpose-built factories in Scotland.
Following customer feedback, and with the aim of reducing their environmental impact, Wilsons have been working hard to move away from their original pouches to biodegradable trays and recyclable cardboard sleeves to help target no plastic. After launching in 2020, feedback from customers and stockists alike has been extremely positive, with dog owners pleased to purchase a product that helps them achieve their own eco goals.
As part of their relaunch, they also added a new range of Core 80/10/10 raw frozen dog food in a variety of 4 different flavours. Like their Premium Complete range, the ingredients for their new raw frozen range are locally sourced and it was also awarded the PATS New Product of the Year 2020 in the Dog Food and Products category!
Head of Sales at Wilsons, Dan Griffin, says; “When speaking with Stockists earlier last year, we found that knowing where their dog food comes from and its environmental impact were a growing concern for their customers. We are thrilled to be able to offer our new biodegradable trays while continuing to use locally sourced ingredients, it’s ticking every box we could have hoped for!”
Wilsons will also be relauching their range of Premium and Working Dog cold pressed in the coming weeks, which will be packaged in a recyclable cardboard box, with the option of customers choosing a refill recyclable paper bag for their subsequent purchases.
For more information, visit www.wilsonspetfood.co.uk or contact our sales team on email@example.com.
Amcor worked with Purina to develop the packaging, test it for heat resistance, machine performance, shelf-life stability and real-world recyclability.
Through its partnership with global packaging supplier Huhtamaki and petrochemical leader SABIC, Mars will use recycled plastic which has been manufactured using an advanced recycling process for its pet food packs. Thanks to this process, the packs will not feel or be different from those made with traditional virgin plastic, but will have the added benefits that they include recycled material coming from previously used plastic products.
The recycling approach used by SABIC to make its certified circular polypropylene is one of the only solutions currently available that is able to take mixed, used plastic that is otherwise hard to recycle via traditional recycling routes, and to transform them back into plastic suitable for new food-grade recycled packaging. Mars is piloting this in Europe in 2020 and will increase volumes used into 2021, with ambitions to expand the use of recycled content to other brands.