(BPT) - While most Americans may say they're environmentally conscious and care about recycling, their daily habits haven't caught up with their good intentions. In fact, the EPA reports that the recycling rate is currently only at about 32%. Part of this is due to confusion about what and how to recycle. If you’re one of the growing number of people with a pet at home, your recycling habits may be even more complex by adding pet product packaging into the mix. With so much packaging produced today, your choice between the recycling bin and the trash can feel inconsequential in the grand scheme. But the truth is, every day consumers play a crucial role in reducing waste.
In an ideal world, we would operate in a “circular economy,” where the materials we now consider waste instead serve a secondary purpose. Some companies are committing to the environment by switching to more sustainable manufacturing processes and using recyclable — and recycled — materials in their packaging. But it takes more than just what companies can do alone; businesses rely on consumers to recycle correctly, fueling the supply of materials used to produce more environmentally friendly packaging.
“Many consumers engage in ‘wish recycling’ — dropping an item in the bin and hoping it will be recycled,” said Nida Bockert, senior director, Portfolio Innovation, Optimization and Sustainability at Purina. “At Purina, which makes some of the most popular pet care products, not only are we focused on empowering pet owners to choose the recycling bin instead of the trash, but we’re also working to educate people on engaging in thoughtful recycling that avoids contaminating the waste stream.”
What one company is doing to improve their packaging
Over 80% of Purina packaging is already made with materials that can be recycled. Aluminum, which can be endlessly recycled, makes up a large part of the brand’s product packaging and is accepted in single-stream recycling which is picked up at your curb. However, only a fraction of the aluminum cans manufactured are made of recycled material, due to lack of supply. This is where consumers play an important role in closing the loop. When consumers rinse and recycle aluminum pet food cans, this creates a supply of second-life aluminum that’s repurposed from scrap metal which generates far less greenhouse emissions than new aluminum. By creating a system that reuses existing resources instead of following a single-use method, it's possible to significantly reduce the harm done to the planet through consumerism and manufacturing.
What you can do
First, support environmentally conscious brands when shopping. Purina is also making progress in recyclability beyond aluminum. The company is hard at work to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.
Unsure about what can be recycled when it comes to pet product packaging, and how to recycle it? First, check with your local recycling facility to be sure you’re following their guidelines.
Here are some basic tips to prepare pet product packaging for recycling:
- Metal cans: Rinse and drop into your single-stream recycling bin.
- Plastic tubs: Rinse and drop into your single-stream recycling bin.
- Tidy Cats containers: Empty and drop into your single-stream recycling bin.
- Cardboard from variety packs: Drop into your single-stream recycling bin.
- Shrink wrap from variety packs: Drop off at your local grocery store where available. To search your area, visit plasticfilmrecycling.org.
You can also always look for the "How2Recycle" label on any Purina brand package for help with recycling. If the package doesn’t include that label, it's safe to say the product is not recyclable.