Pet food companies could be doing more to tackle plastic waste, according to Henrietta Morrison, founder and CEO of Lily’s Kitchen. The enterprising business woman is urging other companies to ‘ditch the pouch’ in favour of more recyclable packaging.
Henrietta’s comments follow Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042, which is part of the government’s 25-year plan to improve the natural environment and create a cleaner, greener Britain.
Currently in the UK, plastic pet food pouches are non-recyclable and it is estimated that in the case of cat food pouches alone, 8.8 billion of them end up in landfill every year.
Pouches are widely used by pet food manufacturers in the UK, particularly for single serve portions of cat food, but increasingly so for dog food. So the total number of pouches going into landfill is likely to be much higher.
Lily’s Kitchen made a conscious decision not to use plastic pouches for its cat food on environmental grounds, given their non-recyclability. Instead the company uses aluminium trays which can be widely recycled by householders. The same is true for Lily’s Kitchen wet dog food products, which all come in recyclable aluminium trays or tins.
In addition, for its dry complete food, Lily’s Kitchen uses specially designed paper bags that are 100% compostable. This compared with the rest of the industry where the majority use non-recyclable and non-compostable bags, further adding to the landfill issue.
85% of all Lily’s Kitchen packaging is currently made from compostable or recycled material, or is recyclable at end of life. The company is working towards increasing this to 100% by reducing the amount of packaging on products it uses and making sure it uses recyclable materials wherever possible.
Comments Henrietta: “We have a responsibility to try not to add more rubbish to our planet. We want to try and be part of a solution, not contribute to the problem. So, whatever we do, from eco packaging to organic ingredients, as a business we try to tread carefully on the planet our pets love so much.
“It’s clear that non-recyclable plastic pouches are a major burden on our environment and we feel very strongly that the pet food industry should follow our lead by eradicating them from the supply chain. Advances in packaging technology mean that alternative options exist that more than adequately keep the food safe for our pets, which is the primary concern, provide convenience for consumers and enable manufacturers to communicate information about their products clearly on pack.
“The time has come for the pet food industry to take greater responsibility for the waste it creates through its packaging.”
Lily’s Kitchen is proud to be one of the founding members of B Corp in the UK, and is currently the only pet food company in the world to certify as a B Corporation. The B Corp community believes in using business as a force for good, acting in a responsible and respectful way as a business and using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
Adds Henrietta: “Becoming a founder member of the B Corporation community in the UK has been a hugely inspiring journey, and one that I hope will inspire other companies to adopt a similar approach, particularly to do the right thing for the environment.”
Meanwhile, Lily’s Kitchen recorded an impressive rate of growth of 36% year on year, as the company announced it would continue its mission to provide proper food to all pets.
Over the past 12 months, Lily’s Kitchen chose to invest heavily in the business, particularly in its people, systems and marketing in order to build and grow existing channels and open up new distribution.
Its decision to invest ahead of growth to ensure the continued expansion of the brand and systems to support this, both in the UK and internationally, led to the company recording a £2.4 million loss in profit to 31st March 2017. However, the business is expected to return to profit by the end of the next financial year.
Henrietta said: “We continue to experience significant growth and have decided to invest heavily in the business to support this. As a result we have performed strongly in all retailers, not only delivering impressive topline growth but also delivering incremental category growth for our retail partners.
“We are excited to be taking on 30,000 new points of distribution in the UK and internationally, across over 2000 new stores in 2018, which will bring new consumers to the category and increase brand awareness. Our mission is to provide proper food for pets so new distribution points will help us unlock this.”
Lily’s Kitchen has demonstrated rapid YOY growth since its launch nine years ago, but with c.2% of the market share, there is still considerable appetite and headspace for further growth.