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Can or carton? Pooch & Mutt’s response

The word revolution dates back to when Nicolaus Copernicus proved that the Earth revolved around the sun, and not the other way around, as the church believed. ‘Revolutionaries’ were people who believed in Copernicus’ work, and that the Earth wasn’t the centre of the universe. The church banned Copernicus’ work for over 200 years.

Luckily we no longer live in a world where the church can ban knowledge, however, powerful, large institutions with vested interests are still looking to use their size, money and power to control a narrative, in the face of obvious truths.

At Pooch and Mutt, we are leading the pet food revolution, to show how things can be done properly. Our impact won’t be as great as Copernicus, but in the battle to protect the planet, we all need to do as much as we can.

The latest to weigh in on the debate of the environmental benefits of cartons vs cans is The Federation of producers of Steel Packaging. Their name alone should alert you to their inherent bias. Their role, as stated on their website, is a federation of the four major producers of steel for packaging, i.e. the four of the companies who are most at risk when we do all eventually #ditchthecan to help the planet.

Their argument for cans is that cans are made from recycled metal and can be recycled infinitely. On the surface, this seems like a good argument, as did arguing that the Earth revolved around the sun, but it isn’t. The melting point of steel is 1510 degrees. It doesn’t take much visualisation to picture scrap metal being melted down and reformed into steel – in my head, it’s a bit like The Tower of Mordor at the end of Lord of The Rings. You can easily imagine the energy used to melt and form steel and the emissions caused. Whereas the raw materials for our cartons come from trees, from FSC forests, where new trees are constantly planted to replace trees. A process that we can repeat infinitely. As opposed to the emission-heavy process of recycling metal, planting and growing trees actually absorbs CO2 emissions from the atmosphere and produces the oxygen that we all need to breathe.

The article mentions the fact that we need to look at the full lifecycle of the products but then fails to look at them. There are five key points in the lifecycle:

  • Raw materials: As shown above the raw materials for cans, although recycled, are created via an emission-heavy process, whereas the raw materials for cartons are created by planting trees that actually improve our environment.
  • Production: Imagine how much more energy is needed to bend steel into a can shape. Then imagine how easy it is to fold card. The extra energy used comes at an environmental cost, such as the emissions from fossil fuels.
  • Transportation empty: Empty packaging has to be transported from the packaging manufacturer to the food manufacturer. When transporting cans they are fully-formed, solid and empty. They are basically transporting air. Cartons are transported flat. This gives a 9:1 saving. 1 truck of cartons carries the same number of cartons as nine trucks of cans. So every truck of cartons transported is taking 8 trucks off the road, with all of their associated emissions.
  • Storage and transportation of the final product: Because cartons fit together well and don’t leave empty space like circular cans, there is a 40% space saving. That’s 40% less trucks on the road from the manufacturer to the retailer and throughout the whole supply chain. Even 40% less space is taken up on the shelves and in customers cars on the way home.
  • Weight: The empty can weighs over three times as much as the empty carton. The very simple physics is that it takes energy to move weight, and the more weight, the more energy. This energy comes from sources like fossil fuels.

To find out more about these five simple truths you can watch a short video where I explain them at bit.ly/ditch_the_can

Finally, it’s interesting to note that the article mentions that cans are a great way to naturally preserve food, without the need for artificial preservatives. This is true of both cans and cartons. Our delicious foods are all free from artificial preservatives and preserved by the cartons themselves.

However, although the food in cans may not be formulated with artificial ingredients, the cans themselves are often lined with BPA, which can seep into the food. According to an article in the Daily Mail; BPA has been banned from baby products and plastic water bottles because of its toxins. BPA has been connected to health issues including cancer, diabetes and birth defects. Yet another reason to #ditchthecan.

Whilst we are obviously wary of the big, deep pockets that these big corporations have and expensive lawyers that they can undoubtedly afford, we know that we are in the right and we know that we have to fight for what is right for our pets and the planet.

The bigger threat to Pooch and Mutt is that the ‘Big Pet Food’ companies see that what we are doing is the right thing to do for the environment and start to use the technology themselves. It’s unlikely, but they might even join us in putting pet health over profit and try to make food as good quality as ours. Although this might put us out of business (unless we continue to out-innovate them), it will be a huge win for the planet and for our pets, so we’d consider that a victory.

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