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Savvy, innovative packaging is nothing new, but it’s making waves in the constantly-evolving world of pet food products in the UK and worldwide. With ever more consumers preferring eco-friendly packaging options to single use plastics and non-recyclable packaging options, pet food manufacturers across the UK are striving to adapt their packaging to meet these needs.
A question that pops up frequently has to do with compostable and biodegradable packaging. What’s the difference? Which is better? Are these options really environmentally-friendly or is there some false advertising going on?
Pet Food Packaging at a Glance
As with human food, pet food packaging needs to meet certain standards in order to be hygienic and safe. For example, raw pet food must be packaged in leak-proof packaging within the UK. There are plenty of other considerations that go into preparing packaging for pet foods, but from the consumer’s point of view preferences are changing rapidly.
In America, 75 per cent of consumers want sustainable pet food packaging that is able to be reclosed easily. Tear-open plastic bags that don’t seal or reclose easily just aren’t cutting it any more. Pet food manufacturers have keenly tried a number of alternatives over the years, but all must pay attention to a few key factors including: shelf life, moisture retention, grease, flavour, and density when engineering the packaging materials.
What Does Modern Dog Food Packaging Look Like?
As social norms change and our four-legged companions are increasingly being treated as family members, consumers are placing a lot more emphasis on providing their pets with great quality food that’s also sustainably-sourced and manufactured. The same can be said about the packaging, for that matter.
Sustainable materials such as brown paper and vegetable starch lining, for example, have already become commonplace on supermarket shelves in the UK and elsewhere for human food, so it stands to reason that consumers are getting pickier about packaging for their dog food, too.
This doesn’t mean that pet food manufacturers have to sacrifice on innovative graphics and package design, however. Function instead seamlessly blends with form when sustainable materials are used, whether biodegradable or compostable. For environmentally-conscious pet owners, being able to toss out your compostable package in the kerbside recycling bin gives both peace of mind and shows a commitment to helping the environment, especially if the food itself is also eco-friendly such as Bug Bakes.
Biodegradable simply means that the packaging will disintegrate over time by fungi, bacteria, or by other natural biological processes. The tricky part about biodegradable packaging, however, is that basically everything is biodegradable, but just how long does it take to biodegrade?
Plastic bags, for instance, can take up to 1,000 years to decompose completely, so technically they are biodegradable. Of course, for all practical reasons that’s just not good enough for environmentally-conscious consumers. The point is, the lesser amount of time it takes a substance to biodegrade, the better. Nevertheless, the vast amount of classifications for biodegradability can be quite confusing.
New British standards for biodegradability stipulate that all products such as pet food packaging must be capable of decomposing within two years. This new set of standards will hopefully clear up any confusion regarding biodegradability when it comes to pet food packaging and remove a lot of fluff advertising or ‘greenwashing’ from so-called sustainable pet food manufacturers.
Compostable packaging is similar to biodegradable packaging in that both break down eventually into their constituent parts, but compostable deals with organic material. This means that compostable packaging is biological in nature, using paper or vegetable starch, for instance.
A key difference, however, is that compostable materials require the right conditions in order to break down. Simply stuffing compostable materials in an air-locked tip won’t do, since oxygen is required to decompose the materials. That’s an important consideration, since any product can be labelled as ‘compostable’ yet not actually decompose if deprived of a proper composting facility and simply stuffed into a tip.
Bug Bakes uses completely compostable packaging, which is extremely important for environmental reasons. Our natural packaging contains neither plastics nor bioplastics and is instead completely plant-based, with a vegetable starch lining for robustness. Much like the product that’s found in each bag of Bug Bakes dog food, you can rest assured that the packaging is also sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
Compostable vs Biodegradable: Which is Better?
All other things being held equal, both compostable and biodegradable materials are better for the environment under the right conditions. Using a reasonable timeframe (not in geological time spans) of a few years, compostable and biodegradable packages can break down, with compostable tending to break down faster.
Compostable packaging is the better choice for the environment if it is processed in composting facilities where oxygen and sunlight can accelerate the decomposition of the packaging, and the residual waste can be reused whereas for single-use plastics, well, they’re single-use for a reason.
That’s why Bug Bakes chooses to use all-natural, plant-based packaging that has minimal impact on the environment, just like our food, without compromising on nutritional content and all the goodness in each bag that your dog is sure to love.
Quantity vs Quality vis-à-vis Cold-Pressed Dog Food
There’s a tradeoff when it comes to cold-pressed dog food such as Bug Bakes’ insect-based dog food. Those big, 10 kg bags of kibble just don’t work for cold-pressed dog food since traditional ‘extrusion’ dog kibble simply lasts longer on store shelves, meaning that 10 kg bags seem to be a convenient and economical choice for dog owners.
The true cost of convenience, however, is that extruded dog food loses much of its nutritional value due to the high heat exerted in the manufacturing process. Consequently, more packaging options are available, including 10 kg bags.
Cold-pressed dog foods don’t have this luxury, but what consumers lack in quantity they gain in spades in quality. Bug Bakes sells in quantities of 2.5 kg, which is a lot more convenient for both freshness and the environment, given that our packaging is completely plastic-free and compostable.
But Surely Eco-Friendly Packaging Incurs Higher Costs?
There was once a case to be made for the convenience of single-use plastics and polymers in the world of pet food packaging, but the abundance and popularity of alternative, eco-friendly packaging materials has driven down costs significantly so much that it’s just the sensible choice nowadays.
One challenge that manufacturers face is the rapid growth of e-commerce and individual pouches for smaller quantities of dog food. Perhaps a few years ago, achieving a balance between meeting the demands for small quantities of cold-pressed dog food and providing eco-friendly packaging wasn’t feasible. Pouches and small sacks of dog food would normally be wasteful, but the rapid adoption of paper-based packaging materials is now not only possible, but sensible as well.
That’s one reason why Bug Bakes provides door-to-door delivery plans, whereby every month you’ll receive eco-friendly dog food in eco-friendly packaging. How’s that for convenience?
All things considered, it really comes down to supply and demand. As the demand for sustainable packaging surges, manufacturers are increasingly pressured to increase the supply of sustainable packaging at increasingly affordable prices.
What’s the Future of Dog Food Packaging?
As natural and eco-friendly packaging materials gain widespread adoption, it’s likely that the future is quite bright for both dog food manufacturers and consumers alike. Of course, it’s up to speculation how things will develop in the coming years, but if the past few years have been anything to go by, eco-friendly dog food packaging (and the food itself!) will only improve.
By 2030, it’s likely that potato starch and sugar beet will become adopted for packaging. Materials that can be composted and bear no significant impact on the environment will only get better over time if that’s the case.
At Bug Bakes, we already use vegetable starch for lining and only use paper-based packaging, no plastics involved.
Go Eco-Friendly With Bug Bakes
If you’re committed to benefitting the environment whilst shopping for dog food, try out Bug Bakes today. Insect-based foods are a sensible choice, but our plastic-free, paper-based packaging is an added benefit, so get on it like a bonnet and order a free sample today.