Eco-Conscious Consumers Shape the Future of Sustainable Pet Products

Glenn Polyn//March 1, 2024//

Eco-Conscious Consumers Shape the Future of Sustainable Pet Products

Glenn Polyn //March 1, 2024//

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Pet parents have long been pushing for more natural pet products, be it organic ingredients in food and treats, compostable packaging or even environmentally friendly bedding for small animals. In 2021, in response to this consumer demand for natural and eco-friendly products, Petco announced a commitment to increasing its assortment of sustainable products to 50 percent by the end of 2025, reinforcing the company’s pledge to corporate social responsibility and to preserving the health and wellness of pets, people and planet.

As part of its mission to improve the lives of pets, pet parents and Petco partners, half of Petco’s complete assortment of pet products will align with at least one of five sustainability pillars:


  • Responsible manufacturing– brands and products that use responsible manufacturing practices during production.
  • Sustainably sourced materials– products made with materials like organic cotton or recycled nylon.
  • Sustainably sourced ingredients– food and treats made with ingredients that are more environmentally friendly or emit fewer greenhouse gases.
  • Responsible packaging– packaging designed to be refilled with the same type of product or for multiple uses.
  • Animal welfare– ensure animals are treated humanely and products meet Petco’s cruelty-free standard.


“Improving the lives of pets and people means improving our impact on the planet too,” said Ron Coughlin, chairman and CEO of Petco. “We know pet parents find it important for companies they do business with to carry more sustainable products and options. With this ambitious commitment as our first step, we embark on a journey aimed at not just meeting that expectation, but also raising the bar even higher. Petco’s sustainability team has my full support to continue driving positive change within our business, industry and the world through ongoing, accelerated efforts.”

Small animals are surprisingly big players in the eco-friendly category. Founded in 1919, American Wood Fibers (AWF) is a family-owned and operated business that’s been building a reputation as a leader in sustainable forestry products through innovation, hard work and caring for families. With pet bedding brands like PetsPick and America’s Choice, AWF strives to make a positive contribution on the environment through total waste utilization in its products, use of pre-consumed materials for its packaging and the development of environmentally friendly products. Most of these products avoid chemical additives, like scents, and break down after disposal much faster than traditional products.

For example, dioxins can be found in some paper pet bedding products that are made from reclaimed fibers coming from the sludge stream of paper plants. That led American Wood Fibers to become a “sludge-free” company and only process fibers made from natural wood or food-grade paper byproduct fibers. These products meet the standard of being nontoxic, effective, good for the pet and good for the planet.

American Wood Fibers found new fibers that are 99.9 percent dust free, are dioxin- and sludge-free, and the brand packages those products for private-label partners. Whiting advises retailers to examine products closely before choosing which ones to stock.

There are several ways in which eco-conscious companies in the pet industry have been showing their dedication to being eco-friendly. Earlier this year, Petcurean, the manufacturer of premium pet food brands Go! Solutions, Now Fresh, Gather and Summit, shared its third annual Sustainability Impact Report, which reflects the company’s ongoing journey to translate ambition into action and reaffirms their commitment to being a sustainability leader in the premium pet food industry. The report highlights impressive initiatives in fiscal year 2023 that showcase Petcurean’s progress in achieving their ambitious sustainability goals.

“Our third annual Sustainability Impact Report builds off the momentum that we’ve achieved in years past to reflect our commitment to making sustainability progress through measurable actions,” said Christine Mallier, sustainability and community relations manager at Petcurean. “Every area of our business is positively impacted by our efforts to advance sustainability, it is more than a vision, it is integral to who we are as a company. And, while we acknowledge that there is still much work to be done, we are also celebrating the incredible strides we have made over the last 12 months and are thrilled to share the results of these efforts.”

Now in the last year of its initial four-year sustainability plan, Petcurean’s steadfast commitment to sustainability saw the Company reduce its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 40 percent in FY23, exceeding its initial goal to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2030. The company also took important steps to understand the complete picture of its emissions by measuring the Scope 3 GHG emissions across its value chain. Petcurean has calculated emissions from all key sources crucial to the business, including ingredients (and their transportation), packaging (and its transportation), pet food manufacturing, employee business travel, waste at Head Office, and more. This data will be used to develop a plan to help reduce Petcurean’s Scope 3 emissions.

Additional sustainability achievements highlighted in Petcurean’s sustainability report include:


  • Launching recyclable kibble bags: Petcurean is a Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) Accredited Company with Icon membership status and one of the five inaugural signatories of the PSC’s Packaging Pledge which commits Petcurean to transitioning its packaging to recyclable by 2025. The first recipes transitioned to recyclable bags were released in October 2023.
  • Launching a novel insect protein recipe:Petcurean launched Go! Solutions Sensitivities Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Insect Recipe for dogs and cats. This recipe is an eco-friendly pet food option made with black soldier fly larvae, which uses 80 percent less land and water resources than traditional proteins found in pet food.
  • Achieving zero waste: In 2023, Petcurean successfully reduced total waste-to-landfill by 83 percent from fiscal 2022. Zero waste is achieved when <10 percent goes to the landfill. At Petcurean, across three categories (compost, recycling, and landfill), only 9 percent of waste reaches the landfill.

“For 25 years, we’ve committed to putting pets first in everything we do, and as we continue on our sustainability journey to translate our ambition into action, we’re proud to have impacted real change,” Mallier noted. “We are excited about upcoming opportunities and our goal remains clear – to create a more sustainable future for pets, people, and our planet in the coming year.”

Meanwhile, brands such as Natural Farms, are striving to reduce their carbon footprint. With every online order, Natural Farm plants a tree through One Tree Planted, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that plants trees across the globe. Over the years, One Tree Planted has planted over 10 million trees in regions where they’re most needed. According to Madelene Hissom, this partnership is just one way in which Natural Farm is helping to protect biodiversity and reforest areas that have been ravaged by development.

“At Natural Farm, we believe that healthy pups deserve a healthy planet,” said Hissom, Natural Farm’s director of marketing. “We are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices. Our products are packaged in Certified Green Packaging and environmentally friendly display boxes. We also partner with One Tree Planted, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to support reforestation projects around the world. By doing this, we’re protecting biodiversity and promoting reforestation.”

Members of the pet industry are finding other ways to positively impact the environment. Leading pet supplement manufacturer Lintbells recently announced that it has been granted B Corp status, the certification which verifies a company has met the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

B Corp certification is awarded by the nonprofit international organization, B Lab, which advocates a different economic vision whereby businesses move from a traditional financially focused shareholder model to one that delivers benefits for all stakeholders: employees, suppliers, customers and the community. By balancing profit with purpose, B Corp businesses can take collective action to address society’s most critical challenges.

“From the beginning, Lintbells was established on principles that reflected its founders’ core social and environmental values. Since then, those values have informed our approach to the environmental, social and governance factors that are at the forefront of our decision-making, driving sustainable growth and ethical business practices,” said Warren Rickard, general manager, Lintbells. “Our B Corp certification is testament to our commitment to continuously carry these values forward and deliver not only a profitable business, but ensure we meet the needs and expectations of all stakeholders.”

Lintbells has demonstrated robust ESG governance by integrating sustainability as a cornerstone of its business strategy. The company also is working toward a Net Zero pathway centered on science-based targets and has not only completed mapping of its own direct carbon emissions (Scope 1), but also those for Scope 2 and 3 across their supply chain.

In relation to the sourcing of ingredients, Lintbells will shortly be operating within stringent “red lines,” adhering to deforestation-free, GM-free, and palm oil-free specifications – and is currently undergoing a review of any latent ingredients not adhering to those requirements. Following standards set by the Rainforest Alliance, Proterra and others, Lintbells has already successfully verified approximately 50 percent of its ingredients as sustainably sourced and aim to be 100 percent sustainable by 2027.

The company’s YuMOVE brand is also at the forefront of sustainable packaging, with notable achievements including recyclable pouches, lightweight secondary packaging, reduction of raw materials used for packaging and 85 percent recycled labels. Additionally, Lintbells is planning the rollout of their rePurpose Scheme – which aims to recover as much plastic as it distributes, making the brand plastic-neutral.

ZIWI is another brand known for being an earth-friendly company in the pet industry. ZIWI joined the PSC as a Guardian-level member in 2022. ZIWI strongly believes that eco-friendly does not just mean the packaging. It is deeply embedded into manufacturing processes and, above all-else, the sourcing of ingredients.

The New Zealand-based pet nutrition company has long been committed to sustainability by using ingredients that are ethically and sustainably sourced from free-range farms, using grass-fed and grass-finished methods and with its own kitchen, Awatoto, which features recycled and reclaimed wood furnishing, water collection systems to water and regrow nearby vegetation and replanted native foliage to encourage repopulation of endangered birdlife, bees and insects.

“Sustainable and eco-friendly consumables will continue to be a growing focus for pet specialty retailers,” said Karlyn Kubin, ZIWI marketing and brand specialist. “As the competition for Earth’s resources continues to rise, the demand for sustainable products will become commonplace and retailers without these products could face future customer retention challenges.”