There is a revolution taking place in packaging and pet foods are not immune to the changes taking place across the industry. Indeed, it could be argued that pet lovers are just the kind of people who will have more concern than most about packaging and its effects on the environment.
As a consequence, the start of a new year may be just the right time for pet food companies to reconsider their current packaging and ask themselves the following questions.
- Is their packaging 100% recyclable?
- Is their packaging creating excess domestic waste?
- Is their packaging adding unnecessarily to Global Warming?
- Is their packaging the most cost effective?
Whilst these questions may seem somewhat obscure, market research shows that over 70% of consumers consider these questions important, whilst more than half claim that they would choose alternative products if they considered that the packaging used to pack the product was better for the environment.
So, if we consider these packaging features individually.
100% Recyclable packs
Without doubt the most efficient and effective packaging for most pet food applications are plastics.
Whilst there are exceptions such as where retort and sterilization are required to give a shelf life in years for wet foods. For most applications the hermetic seal on a plastic pouch or sachet will give sufficient shelf life to ensure the pet food, wet or dry, is fresh at the point of delivery.
Historically, the environmental disadvantages of both plastic pouches and sachets has been their mixed polymer structure allied to the metalisation of the packs which makes them virtually impossible to recycle. However, recent technical developments utilizing mono polymer structures with EVOH barrier have resulted in a pouch or sachet which are made from PE or potentially PP plastic polymers which are widely collected and recycled in the UK (through return to store scheme). This breakthrough means that the discerning customer can now choose to buy pet food in easily recycled packaging across a full range of pouches and sachets.
Excessive domestic packaging waste
The selection of plastic for packaging of all types is a major contributor to controlling the ever-increasing burden of domestic waste. Packaging using a cardboard box is generally up to 10 times heavier than a similar plastic pouch, whilst glass jars can be 15-20 times heavier. Tin and aluminium are nearer to the weight of a plastic pouch being around 6 times heavier. However, unless these are crushed prior to entering the waste stream the volume of waste they create is much greater.
As domestic waste is expensive both environmentally and economically to collect, transport and separate, the waste savings using plastic are significant.
Packaging that adds to Global Warming
Much to the surprise of the average member of the public numerous Life Cycle Analyses (LCA’s) show that plastic consumes less of the Earth’s resources and generates less CO₂ emissions in its manufacture and use than any other alternative packaging material be they paper, board, glass or tin. Plastic also uses much less energy when recycled. Therefore, pet food packaging is a perfect opportunity for companies to reduce their carbon footprint by using to plastics.
Cost Effective Packaging
Pack design and material selection are the key elements in producing the most cost-effective plastic packaging pack. National Flexible provide a free packaging consultancy service that will either reduce the amount of packaging material used or cost, and in many cases both.
In summary, the availability of 100% readily recyclable, lightweight plastic pouches and sachets overcomes the public’s justifiable objections to ‘Single Use Plastics’. It also provides pet food companies with the opportunity to make a positive contribution to reducing domestic waste, reducing depletion of the Earth’s resources and Global Warming whilst also reducing their costs.
What’s not to like?
On behalf of National Flexible