Mars Petcare in Thailand is taking its pet food packaging recycling program to the next level, by launching an app that will make it easier for pet owners to participate in the program. The Swap Recycling Program, which was launched last year, encourages pet owners to bring in their empty pet food packaging to designated Mars swap points, where they can exchange it for a new bag of food from any brand, in exchange for discounts on their next purchases of Mars pet products. Thanks to the active participation of Thai pet owners, the program has collected over 150,000 bags of used pet food plastic bags that were recycled into cat-shaped paving blocks for Mars' manufacturing plant in Chonburi, Thailand.
For its second year, the program will get support from an app it co-developed with Second Life, a social enterprise specializing in recycling solutions for businesses. The Swap Recycling app, downloadable from the App Store and Google Play, will potentially reach more Thai pet owners and encourage them to ship separated and cleaned flexible or complex plastic waste to Mars' recycling partners. Mars also plans to extend its pet food packaging recycling program to other countries in Asia, as part of its broader sustainability efforts.
Mars is not the only company in the pet food industry that is taking steps to reduce its environmental footprint. Other companies, such as Nestlé Purina, Edgard & Cooper, and 20 pet food brands from the US, Canada and New Zealand, have also taken steps to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by the industry. Research firm Euromonitor estimates that the pet food industry creates about 300 million pounds of hard-to-recycle plastic waste each year in the US alone, but responsible pet food companies are actively looking at more sustainable plastic and other green materials to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic waste.