Dry food is the most popular way that pet parents feed their dogs. It’s generally more affordable than wet food, and more convenient overall, especially if you take full advantage of it and invest in an automatic feeder such as this WOPET Automatic Pet Feeder. But as you know, dog food comes in bags, often very big bags, but what are they made out of, and are they recyclable?
Dry dog food bags are often made out of paper but are reinforced with a plastic coating for strength purposes. Otherwise, they might tear open easily. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you are struggling to tear the bag, then it is probably not recyclable, at least easily, anyway.
There are companies such as Wellness that have partnered with Terracycle to make recycling dog food bags easier. Other dog food companies such as Royal Canin have promised to make all of their packaging recyclable by 2025. How easily, or if you can even recycle dog food bags, will depend on what they are made of, so if you’d like to find out what can and can’t be recycled, we encourage you to keep on reading.
The bags that contain dog food need to support a lot of weight. If you’ve ever carried a 25+ lb dog food bag, then you know exactly what we are talking about, structural weakness simply isn’t an option here, or else all that food would spill out.
Typically, these bags are made of paper, but as you know, paper tears easily, so what do they do? They will reinforce it with a mixture of plastics (usually polyester and polyethylene).
Big brands such as Purina have been turning to use flexible plastic such as polypropylene to ensure that the food stays fresher; also, it is even stronger than the paper + plastic coating combination. But this is even harder to recycle as most recycling programs won’t take these bags.
Fortunately, there is a dog food brand that is trying to improve the situation. As we stated above, Royal Canin strives to have all of their bags recyclable by 2025, which is relatively soon in writing.
Also, both Wellness and Open Farm are working with Terracycle and have a program to recycle their bags. Purina, one of the largest dog food manufacturers, is also trying to go greener and work with recyclers to install machines that can separate the recyclable material that makes up the packaging.
Diane Herndon, the senior manager of sustainability for Purina, had this to say on the matter:
“Member companies and organizations, like Purina, are working with community recyclers to find a way, through separation technologies, new equipment installation, and process reconfigurations, to cost-effectively separate and make a market out of recycling flexible plastic resin,” says Herndon.
Unfortunately, some popular brands such as Blue Buffalo aren’t making this as much of a priority. As of writing, their bags don’t have a universal recycling symbol; their focus is to keep their product as fresh as possible. Here is a quote from their FAQ on their website:
“BLUE packaging doesn’t currently contain a universal recycling symbol. Our bags are made of a mix of materials selected to ensure our high-quality products remain protected until enjoyed by your pet. We recommend checking with your local recycler because each community has different requirements.”
It’s also important not to fall for labels. Even if you have a used dog food bag that is “recyclable ready,” that doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed that it will be reused. Many recycling plants simply do not have the infrastructure to separate the material that can be recycled vs. the material that cannot.
If you want to guarantee that your used bags will be recycled, the best idea is to see if your local recycling plant will take bags made of polypropylene, which is also referred to as #5 plastic. Dropping them off at a generic recycling bin will likely result in them being discarded since, as we stated above, many recycling plants simply can’t process them.
If you are currently on dog food that has partnered with TerraCycle, such as Wellness, Open Farm, and Guardian Pet Food Company, you can simply mail clean used bags to them.
Instead of throwing away the used bags, you can consider reusing them for other purposes.
One popular suggestion is to use the bags as trash bags; the huge 25+ pound bags are excellent for this purpose as they can fit a large number of items and are strong enough to not burst open.
Also, you can use them as compost bags, and they make decent planters for patio gardens. You can even repurpose used dog food bags to be used as grocery bags – if you are going to do this, you will want to wash the inside with hor water and a bit of dish soap to get rid of the greasy film and smell.
You may not be able to save all dog food bags; after all, your pup needs to eat every day, and you are going to go through quite a few bags, but finding use cases for the used sturdy packaging is certainly better than tossing every single one of them into the garbage.
If you’d like more insight, we’ve linked a video below:
If you want a convenient way to recycle the packaging that comes with your dog’s food, you can consider switching to wet food that comes in either aluminum or steel tins. You can clean these out and put them into a curbside bin like you would with newspapers making for a convenient, green solution.
If you are unsure what food to switch to, you can contact your vet for recommendations based on your dog’s individual needs. A generic recommendation for most dogs would be Hill’s Science Diet, as it is good quality food at an affordable price point. Do note that wet food is usually more expensive than dry, but if it makes you feel any better, dogs tend to prefer wet feed as it caters to their desire for rich, meaty meals.
And we would recommend giving them something to chew on, such as those rawhide bones you see sitting out at pet stores to keep their teeth and jaws nice and strong.
You might be thinking that the raw food diet craze might be the most eco-friendly way to feed your dog, and it can be if you are properly recycling the packaging that the food came in, but most people shouldn’t feed their dog this way. Dogs have specific nutritional needs, and many folks don’t have the extensive knowledge to make this work. Also, there is the danger of passing diseases to both you and the dog when handling raw meat.
The Ultimate Guide to Feeding Dog Kibble and Raw
Recycling used dog food bags can be a bit tricky for many people. Curbside bins won’t accept them since they are usually made out of #5 plastics, which most plants can’t process; however, if you buy dry dog food from Wellness, Open Farm, or Guardian Pet Food Company. You can mail your used bags to TerraCycle for processing.
It’s not always going to be difficult to recycle dog food bags. However, big brands such as Purina and Royal Canin aim to make their packaging greener by 2025.
- Live Green Recyclebank: Can I Recycle Pet-Food Bags?
- DIY & Crafts: 10 Clever Pet Food Bag Repurpose Ideas
- Pet Food Industry: Specific Dry pet Food Bag Trend Poses Recycling Challenges
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