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Sustainability Top Priority at Petco

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The Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition Interviews Jim Thomas, vice president sustainability, safety & environmental health at Petco. PISC is the collaborative playground for accelerating the rate of sustainability throughout the pet industry and is now over 50 members strong. To learn more about PISC or to become a member visit www.petsustainability.org.

Q: What inspired Petco to join the Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition?

A: Petco is pleased to be the first retailer to join the Pet Industry Sustainability Coaltion. We believe PISC is ideally positioned to bring together industry stakeholders to focus on shared sustainability goals.

At Petco, our Vision is Healthier Pets. Happier People. Better World. We believe the “Better World” element of our vision can be fulfilled by working together with like-minded companies interested in reducing energy use, decreasing waste and conserving precious natural resources. In addition, we are familiar with the success of other industrywide coalitions such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and believe PISC is the equivalent platform for the pet industry.”

Q: What are the driving forces behind pursuing sustainability as a retailer?

A: At Petco we believe that reducing waste, using less energy and recycling materials saves money, is good for business and benefits the environment.  Pet parents really care about the environment, and our job is to provide them with products that are aligned with their values.

Q: As one of the biggest retailers in the pet industry you have budgets and dedicated staff that can focus on sustainability. Can you talk about the importance of vendors in helping you to pursue your sustainability goals?

A: Sustainability at Petco requires us to engage our internal teams and work with all of our suppliers to improve the products that reach our shelves.  If we look at Petco’s total “environmental paw print” it is clear that major environmental impacts reside in our supply chain. So, working with suppliers is the only way to impact our larger footprint.

Q: Why do you think your vendors should join PISC?

A: PISC is the only organization focused on for sustainability collaboration in the pet industry – it is also a great opportunity to tap into Natural Capitalism Solutions consulting expertise and to develop best practices to improve all operations. The relationship between buyers and sellers is important, and where else do you have Petco, PetSmart and peer companies at the same table?

Everyone in our internal organization somehow touches sustainability – from the purchasing agent working with buyers to the administrative assistant who makes sure that reports are printed double sided. From the vendor perspective- there wouldn’t be a single supplier that couldn’t benefit and shouldn’t be paying attention to sustainability. All companies generate waste, use materials, water and resources and there are potential ways to do it better.

Q: Do you think your respective companies will develop sustainability criteria for the products it chooses to carry similar to the Walmart Sustainability Index and others?

A: Yes, within 5 years I believe that sustainability information will be routinely available for all products. Good Guide is one of the first examples of this. Customers are going to demand more transparency and traceability. Arguably if you want sustainable products you have to ask suppliers questions in order to determine what to buy. At the end of the day we may not see sustainability as the #1 purchasing criteria but it will surely rise into consideration along with price, quality, and customer service.

Q: If you had to set a goal for how many of your vendors will join PISC by our 1-year anniversary at Global Pet Expo in 2014 what would it be?

A: We certainly hope that ALL of our suppliers will join because it creates a bridge for us to communicate with them around sustainability.

- Caitlyn Bolton

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