Pet care products retailer Pets at Home has introduced dedicated recycling points for flexible pet food packaging in its UK stores.
The new initiative, which is being supported by pet food producers Mars and Purina PetCare, aims to tackle flexible packaging waste in the sector. The retailer is also working with environmental charity Hubbub to run the initial pet food packaging recycling trial, which has so far been rolled out across 40 shops and three Vets4Pets practices in the UK.
If the pet food packaging collection scheme trial proves successful it will be rolled out across the country, with Pets at Home aiming to have the facilities in the majority of its stores by the end of next year.
Specialist recycler, Enval, has developed a microwave-induced pyrolysis process which recycles and recovers flexible, rigid and complex plastics, and Pets at Home has teamed up with the business to run this programme.
The process involves heating the packaging up to 600 degrees to separate the aluminium and plastics layers. Pets at Home said the aluminium is recovered, clean and ready to be recycled and the plastic is converted into oils and gases.
These oils can then be reused for other products, and Enval is working with several plastic producers which are aiming to use them as feedstock for new plastic, with the ambition of achieving “full circularity”.
The gases are used in a conventional gas generator to produce the electricity to run the microwaves, which Pets at Home and Enval said makes the process “self-sustaining”.
By using electricity to heat up the process it means that the Enval plant doesn’t have a stack or chimney, further supporting its green agenda.
Louise Stonier, chief people & culture officer at Pets at Home, said: “We are really excited to be able to offer this recycling service as we know it is important to make it convenient for our customers to return their used packaging when they come to our pet care centres.”
Jack Hodgkiss, creative partner at Hubbub, added: “This trial marks a significant stepping stone towards tackling the issues associated with plastic packaging.
“Around 44% of UK households have pets and most of them don’t have access to flexible plastic recycling through their local council.”
Alison Bramfitt, group packaging manager for Purina, commented: “Purina’s vision is that none of our packaging ends up in landfill or as litter, we are committed to working towards a waste free future.”
Kim Smet, interim general manager for Mars Pet Nutrition UK, remarked: “Supporting the collection and recycling of flexible plastic packaging is an important step in realising our ambition of creating a circular economy where packaging never becomes waste, and ultimately of creating a better world for pets.”
Pets at Home is the first retailer Enval has worked with on a store take-back scheme.
Carlos Ludlow-Palafox, CEO at Enval, said: “We are using this trial as a test bed for the future, where we hope to make flexible plastic recycling more accessible for both industrial and consumer waste through installing 50 new plants across the UK in the next five years.
“Our aim is to make previously unrecyclable plastics valuable, paving the way for environmentally responsible packaging solutions.”
Pets at Home stores involved in the initial trial include those in Aberdeen, Hereford, Swansea and York.
[Image credit: Pets at Home]