One Bulk-Bin Kibble Brand’s Plan to Save the Planet
A new Petco initiative aims to keep 50,000 dog food bags out of landfills each year.
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
Being a low-waste dog parent got a bit easier last year with the launch of Canidae dog food refill stations in certain Petco stores.
These stations allow you to refill the same reusable kibble bag instead of needing to buy a new one with every visit to the pet shop or grocery store (or Amazon). Canidae estimates that the program will save 50,000 dog food bags a year from being lost to the landfill, where their unrecyclable layers of plastic and aluminum pile onto the mounting waste crisis.
How to Use Canidae Kibble Refill Stations
The process to snag your kibble is simple: Bring your reusable zipper bag to the store, place it in the refill machine, select how much food you’d like (each bag holds up to 24 pounds), and grab a receipt to show at checkout. Petco estimates that beyond reducing waste, the stations save shoppers significant cash — around 45 percent per pound that would have otherwise gone towards packaging. To start, two of Canidae’s formulas are available for a refill: salmon and sweet potato and chicken.
The way that the food makes its way to stores has also changed. According to a press release, Canidae is using fully recyclable bulk bags for shipping to ensure that the entire process, from plant to plate, creates less waste.
After helping shoppers in Southern California snag 7,000 pounds of kibble last year, the program is spreading across the country and is now in nearly 100 stores. Right now, stations are primarily in Colorado, Texas, Florida, and Washington state. This map will show you if there’s one in your area.
How to Be More Sustainable With Your Dog Food
If you’re tired of tossing dog food bags week after week but don’t live near a participating Petco or don’t count Canidae as your kibble of choice, there are a few other ways to trim down your trash bin. Here are some more strategies for avoiding pesky pet food packaging.
Opt into TerraCycle.
TerraCycle invests in finding markets for materials that aren’t accepted by local recyclers, like pet food bags. Once they collect enough bags, they can reinvent them as materials like park benches, picnic tables, and playground materials. You can recycle your bags through TerraCycle by sending in empty bags of approved brands with a pre-paid shipping label or purchasing a zero-waste box that you can fill with any empty pet food bag, box, or container you have lying around.
Make your own chow.
Sure, making pet food from scratch takes time, but it allows you to be choosy about ingredients and helps you avoid unnecessary packaging by buying loose vegetables from the grocery store or cuts of meat from the butcher. Plus, the end result can be pretty darn tasty (just ask the pets of celebrity chefs). Learn how to purchase eco-friendly ingredients to feed your pet here, and don’t forget to shop around the food scraps in your own kitchen first.
Look for bulk bins in your area.
Petco isn’t the only retailer getting in on the refillable game. Grocers like WinCo also have food for cats, dogs, and even guinea pigs, rabbits, and parrots in some of their bulk bin sections. Check your local refill shop to see if they currently have pet food, or would be open to stocking it.
While some eco-actions are a pain to add to your routine, visiting a refill station is an easy step that saves you some money, and the environment some plastic, without much sacrifice. Now if only they could fit chew toys in there…
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Emma is a writer, editor, and environmentalist based in New York City. She is the senior sustainability editor at mindbodygreen, the author of Return To Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us (April 2022), and the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self-Care. While she doesn’t have any pets of her own, she is a loving dog aunt to Pip the pup.