The role pets and humans play in each other’s lives – increasing happiness, promoting overall well-being and encouraging feelings of security – cannot be underestimated. This became more evident during the recent COVID-19 pandemic and led to a surge in pet ownership, with the number of dogs and cats increasing in the UK to 13 million and 12 million, respectively (UK Pet Food, 2022).
For pet food manufacturers, this, of course, means more mouths to feed. But our responsibility does not stop at simply producing enough high-quality, nutritionally sound food to feed the increasing number of pets. Not only do we need to continue considering and improving what we do for pets, people and society, but we also need to look at ourselves as manufacturers and the impact we have on the planet. This includes sourcing raw materials, water and energy use, reducing emissions, rethinking packaging and reconsidering how our supply chains work.
Not only do we need to continue considering and improving what we do for pets, people and society, but we also need to look at ourselves as manufacturers and the impact we have on the planet
The Purina Commitments
At Purina, this is not a new task: we formally consolidated our work in these areas in 2016 when we launched our initial set of 10 Purina in Society Commitments. At the recent BetterwithPets Forum, we launched our new set of Commitments, consolidated into six key areas, which will take us through to 2030. These are fully integrated into Purina’s business strategy and are based on three key pillars: pets, people and the planet.
Our Commitments (Figure 1) are about doing more of what matters for pets, the people who love them and the planet we share. We aim to focus our energy and resources where we can make the greatest difference and hold ourselves fully accountable to deliver against the stretching targets we set ourselves. We will also be sharing our progress internally and externally on a regular basis.
Reducing our environmental footprint
Towards a waste-free future
While nutrition will always be at our heart, considering the ingredients we use and how we source them will be a focus area for Purina. We recognise our responsibility to ensure we continue to deliver quality nutrition to our customers while reducing our impact on the climate.
Purina has achieved some very important steps on our journey towards the net zero commitment of our parent company, Nestlé (Nestlé, 2021), including improving the environmental performance of our packaging. For example, from 2016 to 2018, Purina avoided using 3,542 tonnes of packaging, exceeding the target we set ourselves.
Pouches made of just one polypropylene layer are fully recyclable but do not compromise on the essential functions of food-grade packaging
Our ongoing focus on packaging design saw the first-of-its-kind recyclable and flexible plastic packaging for wet pet food piloted under the Felix brand in 2020. These pouches, made of just one polypropylene layer, are fully recyclable but do not compromise on the essential functions of food-grade packaging to ensure a safe and nutritious product. We look forward to rolling out these innovative pouch materials across our whole portfolio.
|You can read more about how to recycle current packaging at How to recycle Purina packaging.|
Purina’s work in this area is part of Nestlé’s commitments to make 100 percent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and reduce the use of virgin plastics by 30 percent during the same time period (Nestlé, 2021).
Innovating pet nutrition and sourcing ingredients using regenerative practices
Purina is also working to help advance the regeneration of soil quality and ocean ecosystems by shifting to restorative circular systems. This includes:
- decreasing the excess nitrogen and phosphorus from fertiliser use
- supporting seagrass and seaweed restoration projects to absorb carbon emissions and chemical run-off
- promoting greater biodiversity
- supporting the deacidification of the oceans
In the UK, Purina is investing in Landscape Enterprise Networks, a collaborative landscape programme promoting regenerative farming practices. The project so far has impacted 4,335 hectares of land in the East of England, with an uptake in sustainable farming practices.
|You can read more here on the Purina website.|
For our communities
Promoting loving and responsible pet ownership can help develop thriving communities, improving the lives of pets and the people who love them. We want to encourage and preserve the special bond between people and pets. To that end, Purina has several long-running projects in the UK focusing on pet adoption and promoting pets in the workplace. We also have collaborations and partnerships to promote responsible pet ownership and support the vulnerable.
Promoting loving and responsible pet ownership can help develop thriving communities, improving the lives of pets and the people who love them
Promoting pet adoption
From 2019 to 2020, in the final year of Purina’s original Commitments, a total of 98,731 pets were rehomed by our partner organisations across Purina Europe (Purina, 2021). In the UK, we have been supporting Cats Protection for over 40 years and are extremely proud of the longstanding partnership we have created with them. By the end of 2022, Purina will have supported Cats Protection with the provision of over 1.5 million meals to help feed the cats in their care.
In the wake of COVID-19
As well as continuing to support our long-term partners, such as Cats Protection and Canine Partners, with specific COVID-19 support packages and food donations wherever possible, we have also been working with the RSPCA. By supporting their behaviour teams, we have allowed them to work with more dogs to find their forever homes. The new Purina Better Together Fund will allow RSPCA inspectors and rescuers to offer help to those most in need through pet-care vouchers issued directly to owners in their homes. This will enable struggling owners to pay for urgent veterinary treatments and other costs they otherwise could not afford.
Fostering health through the power of the pet–human bond
We believe harnessing the power of the pet–human bond can create real benefits to people’s health and well-being. By 2030, we aim to help 1 million people in vulnerable situations improve their health and well-being (Baseline, 2021). We will also support this commitment with our BetterwithPets Prize, awarded to the most impactful organisations leveraging the power of the pet–human bond and making a difference to the health and well-being of children or adults in vulnerable situations.
The BetterwithPets Prize
In 2018, Purina partnered with the social entrepreneurship organisation Ashoka to launch the Purina BetterwithPets Prize. StreetVet’s accredited Hostel Scheme was the winner of our piloted innovation category and was awarded £40,000 to support and accelerate the initiative. At the recent Purina forum, the launch and evolution of the BetterwithPets Prize 2022 was announced, and the sourcing of official applications will start in January.
|You can read more about past winners on the Purina website. Watch the veterinary press for how to apply.|