Is your pet food bag good for the environment? Turns out it is.

If you’ve ever hefted a large pet food bag into a shopping cart, you may have wondered: Is this packaging good for the environment.

The simple answer: Yes, you can be sure your pet food bag is environmentally friendly if it’s made of woven polypropylene. Woven polypropylene, which uses spun plastic (polypropylene) threads to create bags and other materials, is characterized by these features:

  • Tough and durable;
  • Able to be printed with high-quality graphics; and
  • Having environmental benefits that make it a better packaging choice than even plain paper.

Here’s the story of woven polypropylene — also known as BOPP — and how it helps pets and their humans keep the environment cleaner and safer for all of us.

Woven polypropylene is a byproduct of other processes. Very few resources are expended creating it

Polypropylene packaging is a 100% byproduct of natural gas and petroleum refining. No raw resources are consumed in the making of these kinds of bags.

Woven polypropylene is 100% recyclable

According to Cartonplast, a leading provider in worldwide recycling, “the use of Polypropylene ensures the total recyclability at the end of the product life. The material obtained can be recycled for new products, avoiding its dispersion in the environment.”

Despite this high recyclability, polypropylene still has a lot of opportunity to grow as a recyclable. Much of this can be achieved by increasing polypropylene recycling capacity.

The website, The Balance Small Business, which focuses on building and growing sustainable small businesses, noted that there is huge demand for the product of polypropylene recycling:

In July 2017, Proctor & Gamble announced a partnership with PureCycle Technologies in building a PP recycling plant in Lawrence County, Ohio. The goal was to recycle polypropylene into “virgin-like” quality. The demand for recycled polypropylene in the marketplace is massively underserved. According to the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR), there is a demand for 1 billion pounds of recycled PP annually in North American alone; including 720 million pounds of ‘high-quality’ recycled PP.”

This virgin-like recycled product is then used in the creation of new polypropylene thread for clothing and packaging. Marc Datelle is President and CEO of Anduro Manufacturing, a leading manufacturer of woven polypropylene bags. He says there’s enormous benefit in polypropylene recycling through the entire life cycle. “We can use every bit of virgin source material we can get ahold of. We consume that material in manufacture of our bags. When recycled,  our bags are an ideal source for more of that virgin material. With that, the circle is complete.”

Woven polypropylene is a low-risk recyclable

Polypropylene products are rated a “No. 5” recyclable material according to the Resin Identification Code (RIC). Polypropylene is categorized as “low risk” for leaching and is preferable to products constructed of polystyrene.

Woven polypropylene is simple to recycle

Commonly used in the production of woven polypropylene bags, biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP), presents no unusual complications to recycling. As a polymer scientist put it on Quora recently:

“In recycling process, PP is melted; therefore, all those chain orientations vanish and macromolecular chains find a random order (or actually disorder). This character leads to the conclusion that no BOPP property affects recycling. The polymer film/part is shredded into small pieces and then are blended with virgin PP (or another polymer) before melt compounding and granulating.”

Woven polypropylene bags consume fewer non-renewable resources

Because Anduro bags are engineered to be one-third lighter than other bags, they take up less space. This results in lower transportation costs, reduced fuel consumption, and lower storage needs. All of these contribute to woven polypropylene bags’ significantly smaller carbon footprint.

Woven polypropylene bags are better for the environment overall than plain paper bags.

This surprises a lot of people who assume that paper bags are always the best choice when looking for the lowest possible environmental impact. But it’s true, because of the environmental benefits of plastic in general and woven polypropylene bags in particular.

In 2007, a peer-reviewed life cycle assessment looked at the environmental impacts of plastic and paper bags in the United States. The report was evaluated and amended by Michael Overcash, Ph.D, professor of chemical engineering at North Carolina State University where he was an expert on life cycle analysis and recycling.

The paper bags analyzed in this life cycle assessment had 30% post-consumer content. The recycling scenarios in the Boustead report were 5.2% for plastic bags and 21% for paper bags. The plastic bags were lighter-weight carry-out bags, but the findings are relevant when considering more durable polypropylene packaging.

Here’s Why BOPP is better than paper

  • Paper bags cost a lot more resources to produce. In the production of paper bags, there is a lot of water consumed. When looking at paper vs. plastic, when comparing the same amount of carrying capacity, paper requires more than 17 times the amount of water as plastic.
  • Paper bags emit more potentially harmful gas. Paper bags, again comparing the same amount of carrying capacity, emit double the gas as plastic.
  • Even if your pet food sack is thrown away and never recycled, it takes up less than one-quarter the space in landfill and biodegrades at roughly the same rate.

Anduro’s Datelle noted, “Of course we’d rather all of our bags get recycled. That’s in the hands of the end-consumer and local recycling streams. But even if some of our bags are thrown away, they’re no more harmful to the environment than a simple paper bag.”

Anduro Manufacturing’s Environmental Policy:

Anduro polywoven bags are made exclusively of polypropylene. Our product is designated a class 5 recyclable. We continue to research ways to optimize the material used in our bags, recently reducing our standard fabric GSM (grams per square meter) by 9 percent.

Managing our scrap levels associated with production (we sell the scrap on the secondary market) and recycling combine to move us toward our ultimate objective: to reduce our plant landfill waste to zero.