Alexandra Holtzman, Director, Strategy and Business Development for the Americas, Trivium, discusses the advantages of metal pet food packaging.
More than 23 million American households – nearly 1 in 5 nationwide – adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the ASPCA. This unprecedented explosion in pet ownership has driven tremendous growth in demand for pet food, and in turn made pet food one of the fastest-growing segments within the packaging industry.
With such high growth comes even more responsibility to focus on sustainability. Pet food packaging is now responsible for producing 300 million pounds of plastic waste annually in the U.S. alone, according to the Pet Sustainability Coalition. To combat this, leading pet food brands Canidae, Earth Animal, Instinct, Petcurean, and Primal Pet Foods said at SuperZoo 2022 they will sign-on to the Pet Sustainability Coalition’s Packaging Pledge, a new promise to meet voluntary, public, and time-bound commitments that will improve the sustainability of their packaging.
The PSC Packaging Pledge is in direct alignment with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, thereby increasing participation from the pet industry to move toward recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by the year 2025.
While pet food is the fastest-growing FMCG industry in terms of packaging sales, unfortunately, the growth in pet ownership driving these increased pet food sales has also led to the production and consumption of many more plastic pouches and containers that cannot be recycled.
Many types of plastic are difficult or cost-prohibitive to recycle and end up in the landfill or our waterways, and plastic is not infinitely recyclable – it’s subject to downcycling and can only be recycled once or twice. Ultimately, just 9% of all plastic waste gets recycled globally. Nevertheless, according to Trivium Packaging’s 2022 Global Buying Green Report, over 40% of respondents still perceive plastic as recyclable.
Even so, consumer awareness is growing. 89% of consumers do not consider plastic packaging to be eco-friendly. And consumers increasingly consider the environmental impact of packaging when they shop, with 66% of consumers saying it is important to purchase products packaged in environmentally-friendly materials.
Pet food packaging pivots toward metal
Pet food brands are beginning to pivot toward metal packaging, following the lead of other industries like food and beauty & personal care. Doothie by Petcura GmbH—a liquid food supplement or “smoothie for dogs” – recently introduced infinitely recyclable 100% tinplate metal packaging, created by Trivium Packaging. As a global packaging company that produces 100% infinitely recyclable metal packaging using steel and aluminum for some of the world’s most recognizable brands, we see on a daily basis the tremendous benefits of metal packaging in the pet food sector and beyond.
Businesses that sell into the fast-growing pet food market (expected to generate revenue around $90 billion by 2026) should know that the industry’s environmental footprint will draw increasing attention from consumers – and there’s opportunity for those brands that prioritize sustainability. The 2022 Global Buying Green Report also found that 86% percent of younger consumers (18-44) are willing to pay more for products in sustainable packaging according to a 2022 report – up 3% from the year prior.
Metal packaging recycles forever, unlike many other materials that can only be recycled a handful of times before they end up in a landfill or in our waterways. And steel and aluminum packaging have relatively high recycling rates compared to other materials, due to well-established recycling channels. Additionally, Doothie took full advantage of the canvas that metal offers by printing show-stopping graphics directly on the can without the need for labels or mixed materials that could interfere with the recycling process. Plastic packaging with separate labeling can significantly interfere with the recycling process.
The Americas had the highest percentage of people perceiving pets as beloved family members, nearing 80%, according to the 2022 Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer Lifestyle Survey, so food quality has become of increased concern. Metal packaging from companies like Trivium protects food by reducing the impact of oxygen and sunlight and preserves food by locking in nutrients. Because of its superior barrier properties, metal packaging can enable companies to increase the shelf life of their products when compared to plastics and liquid cartons. Additionally, Trivium’s pet food products have an “Easy-Open-End” that is designed with the consumer in mind, making the product easy to handle and open.
The growing presence of sustainable packaging alternatives in the pet food industry marks an important cultural shift away from plastics – but there’s still a gap in the market between the packaging sustainability that consumers desire and the reality of some of the packaging on the shelf. There is a clear need for more brands to make the pivot towards eco-friendly, infinitely recyclable packaging materials like steel and aluminum.
Written by Alexandra Holtzman, Director, Strategy and Business Development for the Americas, Trivium. The views expressed in op-ed articles do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of Reusable Packaging News.