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The environmental impact of pet ownership 

By Will Green, head of Sales and Marketing, Paleo Ridge

Sustainability is a crucial focus for consumers and pet food is no exception. The demand for eco-friendly pet food options is on the rise as pet owners look to reduce their carbon footprint while meeting the nutritional needs of their furry friends. Reducing “carbon pawprints” has made headlines in recent months following controversial comments made by Councillor Mark Howell comparing the emissions of a large dog to that of an SUV and suggesting a need to scale down the size of our pets.   

As a result, many are now questioning what the environmental impact of pet ownership is and, critically, whether there are steps to take to reduce emissions associated with pets. The simple answer is yes, and eco-friendly dog food is part of the solution.

At Paleo Ridge, we are committed to minimising our environmental impact in every aspect of our business, from how we source our ingredients, to our packaging and our transport emissions. There are many ways to make pet ownership more eco-friendly from using compostable poo bags to buying sustainable toys and being environmentally conscious when feeding. Combined, these practices can vastly reduce carbon output.  

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The Raw Dog Food Industry

In pet food, as with any industry, there is a mix of sustainable and unsustainable manufacturers. The suggestion that pets contribute significant carbon emissions stem from headline-grabbing statistics that zone in on a “worst-case scenario”. 

As an environmental leader in the pet food industry, Paleo Ridge is the “best-case scenario”, and offers a high-quality and ethical raw feeding option as part of a sustainable approach to dog ownership.

Raw dog food is manufactured using meat considered ‘less-desirable’, such as tripe, offal and bone, for human consumption. These meats would otherwise be discarded or exported around the globe so, by utilising them, we are minimising potential carbon emissions. The integrity and quality of meats that we source are human-grade, but the demand for them in human consumption is low, or non-existent in some cases, to the point that there can be a surplus of materials.

An accurate assessment of emissions must take into account that the manufacturing of raw dog food reduces waste and the incineration and export of less desirable meat, preventing additional emissions. 

Sourcing Sustainable Raw Meat

The sustainable and ethical sourcing of meat is key to reducing emissions in the pet food industry. Our specifications help improve baseline industry standards. We pride ourselves on our ethical and environmental standards for the materials we use and won’t compromise on this despite it meaning the meat is more expensive and harder to source. We source from within the UK, with some minor exceptions such as Kangaroo, keeping transport emissions low and creating jobs in the local economy.

We are committed to sourcing the best ingredients which align with our core values of high-welfare, ethical-rearing and sustainable-farming. We visit suppliers regularly to ensure that our high standards are being met.

We have seen some encouraging developments from suppliers including the introduction of new and innovative solutions for dealing with waste. For example, one supplier has been developing a new anaerobic wastewater treatment which creates by-products that can be used in cogeneration heat and electrical plants. This can even offset energy use from the grid. As these solutions develop, we will see the environmental impact of our suppliers, and thereby our products, continue to decrease. 

Sustainable Packaging

Material choice for packaging plays a large part in the environmental impact of a product. By using recyclable products, pet food manufacturers can reduce pollutants and waste. The use of sustainable packaging greatly reduces the environmental impact of pet food and associated CO2 emissions. 

In August 2021 we reached the milestone of Paleo Ridge product packaging being 98% recyclable or compostable. We achieved this figure through a series of projects, including the launch of new packaging for every raw dog food range that Paleo Ridge manufactures. 

Our delivery-box packaging and void-fill are made from kraft paper which is often 100% recycled. This cuts out the need for bubble wrap and by using WoolCool to provide insulation, we are offering an effective and sustainable alternative to polystyrene. We also offer a return service for WoolCool liners, creating a circular system by which customers can recycle the liners to be reused time and time again.  

Transport Emissions

To minimise environmental impact, pet food manufacturers should carefully evaluate their choice of logistics solutions or partners. Optimised logistical planning can reduce journeys and transport emissions. Limiting raw material sourcing to the UK also helps to minimise emissions. 

Our delivery partner DPD aims to become the “greenest delivery company on the planet”. With sustainable practices in place and several eco-developments on the way, DPD’s service will continue to aid us in minimising our carbon emissions. We are proud to work with an established company that champions sustainability. 

Looking forward 

As we all know, owning dogs has many benefits for us humans, contributing to our social and mental wellbeing. Dogs are family, and for many, life without them doesn’t bear thinking about. As with anything that we do, including the car we drive, the way we heat our house and what we eat, how we feed our pets will have an impact on the environment. We can choose to do all of these things sustainably – minimising the environmental impact, even having a positive impact – or we can choose not to. The choices we make culminate in our carbon and environmental footprint.

At Paleo Ridge, we know we have a responsibility to research, support and implement sustainable practices, even if they are less convenient. We are committed to helping our customers lessen their environmental impact and minimise the “carbon pawprint” associated with owning a dog, whilst also helping dogs to lead lives that are as happy and healthy as possible. Our devotion to this mission will remain firm as we go forward. 

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