Mars' Swap Recycling Program continues in Thailand

For its second year, the program will now have support through an app that will potentially reach and encourage more Thai pet owners to join in.

(Willee Cole |
(Willee Cole |

Mars Petcare in Thailand is moving to the next phase of its pet food packaging recycling program, thanks to Thai pet owners who actively returned used pet food packages last year in exchange for shopping discounts. 

Mars' Swap Recycling Program lets consumers exchange empty bags of pet food from any brand for discounts on their next purchases of Mars pet products. Since its launch, the program has collected over 150,000 bags of used pet food plastic bags that were recycled into cat-shaped paving blocks for Mars' manufacturing plant in Chonburi, Thailand. 

For its second year, the program will get support from an app it co-developed with Second Life, a social enterprise specializing in recycling solutions for businesses. The Swap Recycling app, downloadable from the App Store and Google Play, will potentially reach more Thai pet owners and encourage them to ship separated and cleaned flexible or complex plastic waste to Mars' recycling partners. 

Mars said it plans to extend its pet food packaging recycling program to other countries in Asia. This is in step with its other planned recycling initiatives, such as using recycled plastic for its Sheba pet food starting in Europe, removing 180 tons of plastic from pet food multipacks by replacing shrink-film with cardboard across its UK multipack pet food range, and reducing the use of virgin plastic by 25% and for 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable across its pet food portfolio by 2025. 

Industry effort to end use of plastic packaging snowballs

In March, 20 pet food brands from the US, Canada and New Zealand helped recover 2,000 tons of plastic waste by reducing the plastic in their packaging and supply chains. In partnership with rePurpose Global, the pet food companies also helped finance the recovery of nature-bound plastic waste. Environmental agencies estimate that the pet food industry creates about 300 million pounds of hard-to-recycle plastic waste each year in the US alone. 

Research firm Euromonitor said the pressure to meet rapid pet food sales growth and a shift to smaller pack sizes drive the industry to use more plastic packaging, but responsible pet food companies are actively looking at more sustainable plastic and other green materials to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic waste. Euromonitor said Mars' use of food-safe recycled plastic starting this year dovetails other companies' similar green efforts like Nestlé Purina's 2020 installation of point-of-sale refillable dispensers for cat food and Edgard & Cooper's 2021 shift to 100% paper-based packaging.

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