The Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) announces the completion of phase I of Flex Forward, the return-to-retail packaging pilot program aimed at reducing landfill waste and delivering sustainable packaging solutions to the pet industry, after exceeding the collection goal of 5,000 pounds of used flexible plastic pet food and treat packaging.
Together, pet wellness brand sponsor Earth Animal, pet food distributor Pet Food Experts, and the PSC launched the Flex Forward pilot program in August 2020 to test the success of an all-inclusive recycling program for the pet industry. All types of flexible plastic pet food and treat bags were collected from pet parents in retail stores where these products are sold. Phase 2 of the pilot project involves testing the recyclability of the collected materials, with a goal of creating recycled plastic material that can then be used for manufacturing other goods for the pet industry or donated to pet rescues across the country such as dog beds, toys, or other hard goods.
According to PSC’s research, an estimated 300 million pounds of flexible pet food and treats bags are generated in the United States each year. Currently, almost all of these bags are made by co-extruding and laminating multiple layers of film plastics that are nearly impossible to separate for recycling. Furthermore, the cost of recycling is more than the value of the plastic materials in the package. As a result, PSC estimates that over 99 percent of all pet food bags in the United States are disposed of in a landfill rather than recycled.
While PSC encourages companies to move toward higher-value and more easily recycled packaging materials, Flex Forward is an important solution for the 300 million pounds of packaging on the shelf today. And an important step toward understanding the potential participation rates of consumers and pet retailers.
The Flex Forward pilot program provided retailers the opportunity to participate at no cost and included collection vessels, retail store associate training, digital content and incentives to encourage pet parents to bring back their packaging to the store. Over 120 independent pet food retail stores in the pilot program states of Oregon and Washington participated, with many experiencing increased store traffic as an added benefit.
The results of the pilot are meant to inform and shape an industry wide plastics recycling program whereby all consumers, retailers, brands, and packaging suppliers can collaborate to reduce the environmental footprint of pet food & treat packaging.
To learn more about this sustainable packaging milestone, join PSC at UnPacked21, the industry’s first virtual sustainable packaging event. Purchase a full-access pass for unlimited education, panels, networking with experts, and workshops, or grab a FREE Starter-Pass to see the keynote, exhibit hall and a special Sustainable Packaging Soiree, a celebration of this momentous milestone, and to honor Flex Forward’s star participants.
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