Sustainability in the Pet Business

As more pet owners have embraced practical behaviors to help our local and global environments, many companies in the pet industry are applying eco-friendly practices within their organizations as well.

One of the first companies I learned this about was Bend, Oregon-based Ruffwear, when several years ago, they hired one of my employees to help launch their sustainability program. I was excited for my team member to join Ruffwear because this was a career opportunity for her, as it met some personal goals and utilized her master’s degree learnings. I was equally happy that Ruffwear was dedicating an entire department to reducing its carbon footprint!

Since then, I have noticed an increased focus on sustainability from pet food, pet gear and other suppliers, such as pet supplement companies. Animal Essentials, a supplement company I’ve featured and admire incredibly, is one of those examples. “Our company mission statement is ‘To improve quality of life for companion animals, their people and the communities they live in’; goals that can only be achieved by extending our efforts beyond sales and marketing to address sustainability issues within our company and the pet industry,” said Gred Tilford, President of Animal Essentials. Animal Essentials uses large quantities of vegetable glycerin, which is derived from palm or coconut oil. According to Tilford, this oil is in high demand across the world and often comes from unsustainable sources, so Animal Essentials has “joined forces” with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a non-profit organization that is “committed to minimizing the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions” he said. In addition, his company has also partnered with non-profit rePurpose Global, an organization that creates hundreds of jobs in third world countries, “helping them clean up and repurpose plastic waste.”

Open Farm Pet Food is the first pet food company to launch a bag recycling program for all of their pet food and treat bags. Customers can bring their empty bags to participating retailers, and we then send them to Terracycle, who then cleans, recycles and sells the products off to manufacturers who make useful items such as outdoor furniture, decking, plastic shipping pallets, watering cans, playground surface covers and more. This program is very popular, so much so that we’re sending off at least 1-2 large bags filled with empty bags every week just from our stores! In addition, they have pledged to reduce their companies’ carbon footprint by 42% by 2030.

Another pet food partner of ours, Nature’s Logic, has been working hard on a variety of platforms to increase its sustainability. Their kibble bags are made with 40% post-consumer recycled plastic, the most in the pet food industry. They also use 100% renewable electricity to produce all of their kibble, bags for their kibble and all of their dog biscuits, with plans to increase this to more products!

These are just a few examples that the pet industry is making towards sustainability, as there are many, many others.