As a company whose logo states clearly that we care about not only our pets but also about the ground they walk on, we have made many innovative changes to move more in the direction of sustainability.
Sustainably marketed products have been driving growth and did not stall during COVID but instead saw a steady increase with no signs of slowing. Much of this growth has focused on a younger generation that puts an emphasis on sustainable, reusable, and recyclable materials.
With a growing interest from consumers to purchase from companies that are sustainably sourced and who utilize sustainable packaging, a new term has been created. “Greenwashing” is used by companies wanting to appear to consumers as operating by sustainable guidelines and is used in marketing but has no real value in practice.
Currently, there are over 300 million pet food bags ending up in landfills. The Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) partnered with Pet Food Experts and ran a pilot program called Flex Forward that encouraged consumers to return their pet food packaging to a collection site at the retail location. The collections began in August 2020 and a whopping 8,000 lbs or 35,500 total used pet food and treat bags were returned. This shows a willingness from consumers to recycle, even when there is an added burden of washing the empty bags to prepare them for recycling. The collection portion of the program went better than expected, but the recycling itself was more challenging.
The first 3,200 lbs of packaging were sent to Engineered Packaging Inc, in Erie, PA to begin the sorting and test recycling process. Out of the total amount of packaging sent in, 1,600 lbs were able to be recycled and of that 300 pounds of pellets were created. The pellets will then be melted and made into new products.
One of the main challenges that hindered the success of the recycling efforts was the materials used for the packaging. Much of the packaging used several layers of different material that had to go through multiple runs of the process as each layer had a different degree of recyclability. Some companies who are touting their packaging as recyclable or compostable at the landfill, are currently using materials that can not be easily recycled and will take decades to break down and compost.
Steve’s Real Food has made an investment in the future of our planet by working with a company that creates strong, attractive packaging that is also easily recyclable.
We use Velo-Flex, which is a mono-layer, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) material that allows for strength and flexibility. The PE material is also able to withstand printing inks without having to rely on multiple layers of unrecyclable materials. The velcro closure on the bags are also made of the same material and is completely recyclable. The bags are a #4 rated, recyclable plastic that can be dropped off at facilities that collect other plastic bags, such as grocery and retail bags.
We are sincere in our commitment to sustainability and hope to see this expand to packaging from other pet food brands.