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Pet Products Growing Greener

Rebekah Harrison//October 12, 2015//

Pet Products Growing Greener

Rebekah Harrison //October 12, 2015//

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What if pet owners could reduce their carbon footprint by visiting an independent retailer? Kermit the frog was wrong, and it is now easier than ever to be green.

Waste Not

It can all start with simple recycling.

WellPet makes recycling painless for consumers by partnering with TerraCycle to encourage pet owners to recycle their Wellness food packaging.

“Many of our consumers recycle regularly, so we wanted to provide an easy way for consumers to recycle their pet food packaging,” said Carly White, digital marketing specialist of Wellpet. “Recycling is important, and we are happy to be able to offer this option to consumers whenever possible. TerraCycle has made great strides in diverting waste from landfills, transforming it into innovative materials and products and we are proud to support this worthy initiative.”

TerraCycle’s recycling programs, referred to as Brigade programs, are free, national recycling programs, making it easy for anyone in the United States to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfills.

“TerraCycle uses an innovative recycling process to recycle the typically non-recyclable waste collected through programs,” said Colleen Duncan, publicist of TerraCycle. “First, materials are separated into metals, plastics and organics. Any organic waste is composted, metals are recycled and plastics are melted into a plastic material that can be molded into new plastic products such as park benches, picnic tables, plastic lumber and plastic shipping pallets. Some of the waste collected is given to our design team to upcycle it into home decor, school supplies and accessories that can be found for sale on the website and on TerraCycle’s Etsy page.”

Anyone taking advantage of WellPet’s partnership with TerraCycle can earn points every time they recycle a bag.

“For each pound, collectors are awarded 100 TerraCycle points,” said Duncan. “One TerraCycle point converts to $0.01. Collectors donate that money to a nonprofit or school of their choice, or they can use their points towards one of the charity gifts listed on our website, such as providing meals to a person in need or adopting an acre of wildlife land.”

Pet food isn’t the only recycle product; pet toys can not only be recycled, they can also be made out of recycled material.

Planet Dog’s entire Orbee-Tuff line is 100 percent recyclable and is made from 20-100 percent recycled materials.

“Our Recycle Line is made from 100 percent regrind material, helping to eliminate manufacturing waste,” said Kristen Smith, brand ambassador for Planet Dog. “All Orbee-Tuff products are also made in the U.S.A., minimizing emissions from overseas transport on our heaviest and highest volume items.”

That isn’t all. Most of Planet Dog’s products are made using renewable resources.

“Our leashes, collars, and harnesses are made from hemp, one of the world’s most renewable resources, and the handles are lined with recycled fleece,” said Smith. “The durability of Orbee-Tuff and hemp means long-lasting products that stand up over years, meaning less waste and less in the landfill. Our Wood Chuck Ball Tosser is made from bamboo, another of nature’s most renewable resources. The handle repurposes cork scraps, keeping them out of landfills. Planet Dog treats are made in the USA from five simple, natural, healthy ingredients – no fillers, no additives, no chemicals.”

Retailers and pet owners can also ship back used Orbee-Tuff toys.

“All Orbee-Tuff products are recyclable, so any used products can be shipped back to us and we will ‘regrind’ the material to be used in a new dog toy,” said Smith.
Planet Dog is also a founding member of the Pet Industry Sustainability Council.

“Because sustainability permeates our company culture and values, Planet Dog became a founding member of PISC in 2012,” said Smith. “PISC’s mission is to accelerate social and environmental sustainability in the pet industry through education, implementation and collaboration. This inter-industry collaboration encourages the implementation of best practices, by providing tools and resources for advancement and by promoting continual and authentic improvement for the benefit of our environment, communities, and businesses.”

Believe it or not, post-consumer waste can make great bedding for small animals and Fibercore Eco-Bedding takes full advantage of the fact. All of the company’s bedding is made up of 100 percent consumer waste.

“For us, that has always been important,” said Brian Wood, president of Fibercore. “Aside from providing a great product for the critters, it’s also about supporting the environment. We’re not cutting down more trees to make more eco-bedding. We’re using stuff that’s already in the system.”
Fibercore’s bedding also provides small animals with the ability to nest and borrow and build homes.

“On a micro level, you’re giving the critters a habitat they can manipulate and reduce stress and make them healthier and on a macro level, we’re having as little an impact on the planet as possible because we’re already using stuff that’s in the system,” said Wood.

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability is also important to pet manufacturers. Planet Dog donates 2 percent of all sales to its nonprofit Planet Dog Foundation.

“[The foundation] demonstrates our commitment to social sustainability, allowing us to fund service dogs, therapy dogs, police and military dogs and many more,” said Smith.
Fibercore works with a group of developmentally disabled workers to package all its small bags of Eco-Bedding to then be shipped to stores.

“It’s really a fantastic relationship,” said Wood. “For them, we don’t care if it takes somebody a minute to fill a bag or five minutes to fill a bag. With that, anybody with any level of disability can do this job, and it’s enabled us to build the company in ways that we couldn’t have done otherwise. We go through there and everyone is smiling and wants to shake our hands. It’s really great.”

Better for Everybody

Everyone benefits from eco-friendly pet products, not just pets and mother earth but also pet owners and brands.

“Dogs and dog owners benefit from eco-friendly products by having safe, healthy options to choose from,” said Smith. “Our transition to paper bags instead of boxes has greatly reduced the weight of our outgoing packages, thus lowering shipping costs. Our Made in the U.S.A. products attract a loyal and conscientious shopper who values clean, green products with a transparent supply chain. Our sustainability efforts are reaping benefits to Planet Dog, allowing us to maintain our prices despite rising costs from our vendors.”

TerraCycle wants to encourage retailers and consumers to help protect resources simply by buying brands like Wellness that take environmental impact into account.

“The benefit of buying pet products that partner with TerraCycle is knowing that your product isn’t leaving any negative impact on the world and will actually end up as something beneficial, like a plastic bench in your local park or as a Frisbee for your dog,” said Duncan. “And by supporting this brand, you are showing your support for companies that take responsibility for the impact of their products, therefore, encouraging other brands to follow suit.”

Retailers can add a TerraCycle and TruFood collection box to their stores to spark consumer interest and also get them involved in making a difference.

“Retailers are finding that more and more of their consumers are interested in recycling options for the products purchased at their stores,” said White. “Since we kicked off our partnership with Terracycle, we’ve had significant interest from retailers looking to add TruFood packaging collection boxes to their stores. Not only is collecting the packaging a great way to reduce waste but it gives the retailers an opportunity to discuss Wellness TruFood with pet parents who might be interested in learning more about TruFood recipes or Terracycle.”

The benefits to stocking Fibercore Eco-Bedding are twofold.

“For the retailer, our sustainability gives them something to separate us from the rest of the products out there, and they should feel good about selling a product that has the least amount of impact on the planet,” said Wood.

Fibercore’s Eco-Bedding is also virtually dust-free and can help with allergy issues.

“A lot of people don’t realize that their children’s critter allergies are coming from the bedding,” said Wood. “It’s with little or no additional effort on the pet owner’s part to provide a product that’s good for the planet, good for the pets and good for the kids.”