The Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition (PISC) recently interviewed Jim Thomas, vice president sustainability, safety & environmental health at Petco, to discuss why sustainability is so important to the pet product retailer. Petco is the first retailer to join the PISC.

"At Petco we believe that reducing waste, using less energy and recycling materials saves money, is good for business and benefits the environment. Pet parents really care about the environment, and our job is to provide them with products that are aligned with their values," Thomas said.

He said Petco is working with its vendors to pursue its sustainability goals and reduce its "environmental paw print."

"Sustainability at Petco requires us to engage our internal teams and work with all of our suppliers to improve the products that reach our shelves," Thomas said.

He said it is sustainability can benefit Petco's vendors, too.

"Everyone in our internal organization somehow touches sustainability - from the purchasing agent working with buyers to the administrative assistant who makes sure that reports are printed double-sided. From the vendor perspective, there wouldn't be a single supplier that couldn't benefit and shouldn't be paying attention to sustainability," he said. "All companies generate waste, use materials, water and resources and there are potential ways to do it better."

The company hopes to develop sustainability criteria similar to the Walmart Sustainability Index within five years, Thomas said.

"Customers are going to demand more transparency and traceability. Arguably, if you want sustainable products, you have to ask suppliers questions in order to determine what to buy. At the end of the day we may not see sustainability as the No. 1 purchasing criteria, but it will surely rise into consideration along with price, quality, and customer service."