Pet Food Packaging Explained: Why Use Polypropylene?

Posted on: October 15, 2013

When people think about sustainability, product packaging is often the first thing that comes to mind. Here at Purina, we’re constantly researching better ways to package, store, and ship our products. A tremendous amount of thought and development goes into finding containers that deliver the high protection for your pet food while also having a lower impact on the environment.

Creating the Right Materials

When we choose the materials to create our packaging, we rely on several criteria. Product protection is at the top of the list—the package has to resist rips and tears and protect pet food from spoiling. If a product is ruined, a lot of materials are wasted. But we are also deeply concerned about reducing packaging in landfills. This means using less total material, where possible, using recyclable materials, and working to find ways to keep packaging materials in the value stream. Our aluminum and steel cans, corrugated trays and paperboard cartons are all recyclable in most communities and labeled as such. Some of the plastic materials create a challenge—some of them, like polypropylene, are technically capable of being recycled, but not all communities’ recycling programs currently collect that material.

Why Polypropylene?

For many of our larger pet food bags, we choose polypropylene, a polymer that can be molded at high temperatures and cooled to a permanent shape. We choose polypropylene for a few reasons. Product protection tops the list: polypropylene has a natural moisture barrier and preserves the freshness of pet food by keeping dog food appropriately moist and cat food appropriately dry. As a result, the food is fresher and tastes better for your pet.

The material is also strong—it is two to three times more puncture resistant than paper. By using polypropylene, we drastically reduce product waste, cutting product damage and spoilage by 50%. Polypropylene is also extremely lightweight—half the weight of paper bags—which reduces the transportation resources required to move the product from factory to retail shelf to consumers’ homes. Polypropylene is so tough and durable that we use it to package a number of our Tidy Cats® litter products as well.

Recycling Polypropylene

Another benefit of using 100% polypropylene bags is that, as a single-source material, it can be easily remolded into a variety of new products. If you are in doubt about where to recycle polypropylene packaging, check with your local community recycling resources or visit 1-800-recycling to learn where your nearest polypropylene container recycling facilities are. For information about materials used and recyclability of any of Purina’s packaging, consumers can use our recycling tool.

Some Purina products that use polypropylene bags include Alpo® dry dog food (except the 4 lb. bag), Purina® Beneful® dry dog food (31, 34, 37, and 42 lb. bags), Friskies® dry cat food (16, 17, 18, and 22 lb. bags), and Purina ONE® SMARTBLEND® for cats (16 and 22 lb. bags). Additionally, Tidy Cats® 24/7 (30 and 50 lb. tubs) and many other litter products are packaged in polypropylene. 

We hope this provides some information about how and why Purina chooses polypropylene in some of our packaging materials.

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