Building a better tomorrow, one bag at a time

At Hill’s, we’re on a mission to minimise (and replenish) the natural resources we use in producing, packaging and delivering our products. That’s why we’ve set a goal to provide 100% recyclable pet food bags by 2025.

We’ve started by rolling out our first line of recyclable bags for VET ESSENTIALS – making us one of the first major pet food manufacturers in Europe to switch to recyclable dry pet food packaging. Let’s take a deeper look into just what goes behind creating recyclable bags.

How Hill’s developed the recyclable bags

We spent nearly 3 years developing the new recyclable material for the new VET ESSENTIALS bags. It took extensive testing to ensure that our quality and safety standards were met. We tested the bags’ strength, durability, shelf life, how they hold up against grease, falling from different heights and more. In fact, during the development stage, more than 50 different tests were performed on all the bag sizes against any potential issues.

What’s special about this technology?

Until now, VET ESSENTIALS bags were made from a combination of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and PE (polyethylene) materials. PET is the same material used for water bottles because it is great for strength and also creates a glossy barrier. PE provides good sealing characteristics to keep the food as fresh as possible. But, unfortunately, when these materials are combined, recycling facilities are not able to reprocess them, and therefore, can not produce new plastics.

However, we’ve developed an ideal packaging solution for our recyclable bags – a PE mono-material (polyethylene, marked as #4 LDPE=Low Density Polyethylene on VET ESSENTIALS’ pet food bags). To get the strength and quality parameters needed, we bonded several layers together. This material makes up all parts of the bag, including the bag itself, the slider, the closure and the handle. Since the entire bag is made of polyethylene, it can be fully recycled!

Depending on where you live, it’s as easy as sorting the bag into the right recycling bin at home or dropping it off at a location that participates in drop-off recycling. The programmes and infrastructure needed to recycle polyethene vary from site to site. Find out more information about recycling the bags.

What happens after the bags are recycled?

Since our bags are made of Polyethylene (one of the most recycled plastics), they can be turned into a variety of new consumer and commercial products, like construction materials and new packaging.

A bag in the recycle stream at a facility gets shredded into pieces, washed and dried, and then put into an extruder that creates a long plastic string. This string is cut into pellets, which are the base materials for new plastic products and packaging.

Small actions, big impact

The quality of the plastic pellets, the base materials for new plastics, depends on how well recyclable waste is sorted. So, it’s up to everyone to do their part – recycle as much as possible and sort waste into the correct bins. Taking these small steps today can lead to a big impact tomorrow.

  • Low-quality pellets can be used to make garbage bags, for example.
  • High-quality pellets can make goods, such as garden furniture, or it can be added to new plastic so less virgin plastic1 is needed.

Our ultimate goal is to become waste-free. One of our initiatives towards this goal is to create recyclable plastic solutions that allow the materials to be reused. This will reduce the need for virgin plastic materials and help to create a circular economy for plastic.

And to make recycling even more accessible, we’re participating in the CEFLEX Project. The CEFLEX initiative helps to recycle packaging in an increasing number of European countries by:

  • Developing “Designing for a Circular Economy” guidelines, considering both packaging and the “End of Life” infrastructure to collect, sort and recycle waste

  • Identify and support sustainably driven markets to help expand their recycling practices

  • Propose a sustainable business case in which packaging can be collected, sorted, recycled and returned at a competitive quality and price

By 2025, CEFLEX aims to develop an established infrastructure across Europe for collecting, sorting and recycling to create post-consumer packaging.

carbon icon

Saves energy – potentially the amount of energy used to charge up to 52 smartphones2,4

 

 

 

carbon icon

Saves electricity – potentially the equivalent of electricity used to power a 9-W LED light bulb continuously for up to 3 days2,3

 

 

carbon icon

Saves on the amount of carbon emissions – potentially saves the equivalent of carbon emissions from driving a car for 1 km2,5

 

 

Imagine the big impacts we could achieve together if we all took little steps to do our part!

A step ahead for a better tomorrow

By using recyclable materials and with everyone’s help in sorting them the right way, a waste-free future is just a bit closer. Together, we can work towards a sustainable environment where materials are reused and significantly less new materials are required.

Learn more at:
https://www.hillspet.co.uk/about-us/sustainability/recyclable-packaging

1Virgin plastic is plastic resin that has been newly created without any recycled materials. This type of plastic is produced (using natural gas or crude oil) in order to create brand new plastic products for the very first time).

2Based on a recyclable bag of 10kg of dry pet food.

3Environmental impact from recycling one additional tonne of plastic waste (EU market polymer mix) relative to sending it to current EU alternative treatment (average mix of incineration and landfilling). Tonini, D., Garcia-Gutierrez, P. and Nessi, S., Environmental effects of plastic waste recycling, EUR 30668 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2021, ISBN 978-92-76-34297-7, doi:10.2760/955772, JRC122455.

4Based on an average savings of 2 kWh of energy from fossil fuels (1,2). Charging a smartphone requires 0.012 kWh (EPA, 2021).

5Based on an average savings of 150 grams of CO2e (1,2). An average passenger car emits 0.17148 kg CO2e/km (DEFRA, 2021).