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Sustainable Packaging in Pet Care

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Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in packaging. However, one major issue identified in pet care is the rapid growth of packaging waste that is created by the industry. Pet food is by far the fastest growing FMCG industry in terms of packaging unit sales; a trend that is being driven by overall industry growth and a shift to smaller pack sizes.


Source: Euromonitor International, Packaging, 2022 edition

As a whole, global pet food packaging is also becoming increasingly difficult to recycle. As the pet humanisation trend drives growth in plastic pouches or containers that cannot be recycled, more widely recycled packaging types such as metal or paper are losing share, which is making pet care packaging less sustainable.


Source: Euromonitor International, Packaging, 2022 edition

Despite these current trends, more sustainable pet care packaging does have substantial growth potential, with nearly half of global pet owners also reporting that they used more sustainable packaging alternatives in 2021 and were more likely to do so than non-owners in this regard.


Source: Euromonitor International, Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Survey, 2021

Sustainable Packaging Initiatives

Consumer pressure from within pet care, but also from the wider packaged consumer goods landscape, is strong enough to warrant increased focus from brand owners on innovation in this area. With plastic packaging being a major focus of green advocates, an increasing number of companies are now trying to replace this with alternative materials, including Edgard & Cooper, which launched new 100% paper-based packaging in 2021. The use of more sustainable plastic is another solution to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic waste, such as Nature's Logic claiming to be the first company in the pet care industry to offer Certified Plastic Neutral packaging in 2020, and the global leading player Mars implementing packaging made from food-safe recycled plastic in 2022.

Moreover, while plastics had seen a reappraisal due to the outbreak of COVID-19, given their role in preserving products and protecting consumers, reusable and refillable packaging initiatives have continued to develop even amid the pandemic. For instance, Open Farm Pet Food has officially partnered with Loop, the reusable/returnable packaging platform, the first ever for pet food, and Nestlé Purina launched a refillable dispenser for its cat food, where pet owners bring and use their own containers in 2020.

Along with these initiatives by manufacturers, retailers are also collaborating with manufacturers to help combat packaging waste, such as Pets at Home, a major pet shop in the UK, which has introduced dedicated recycling points for flexible pet food packaging with the support of Mars and Nestlé Purina, and Canidae, which has launched a kibble refill station at selected Petco stores in the US, accelerating the development of sustainable packaging solutions.

Looking ahead

Along with the increased demand from consumers for sustainable packaging, governments are increasingly setting concrete strategies and measurable targets to reduce plastic waste, such as Japan obliging businesses to reduce the use of 12 types of disposable plastic items from April 2022. As such, investment in sustainable packaging is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have for businesses to survive in the industry. In order to address the extraordinary challenges the industry is facing, collaboration and partnership is crucial, as is bringing value to society and the planet.

For further analysis on Sustainability, read our article Sustainable Ingredients in Pet Care.



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