The difference our packaging makes to our planet – and the part you can play
Brett O'Farrell, KatKin Co-Founder
At KatKin our aim is not only to offer complete and balanced fresh meals for all our cats to thrive, but also to do so in a way that is ecologically responsible and sustainable. This have included attention to every detail of the process, with emphasis not only on the meals and cooking process, but also the packaging and the suppliers we partner with. There are also still some areas we're working hard on to improve.
As part of our broader sustainability practices, we’re committed to only using packaging that is as gentle on the planet as we can make it. To this end, all of our delivery packaging is fully recyclable or biodegradable. We continually investigate ways to further decrease the amount of packaging we use; while also ensuring that it is as easy as possible to reuse or recycle and that our meals arrive direct to your door at the correct temperature.
It’s a work in progress, but we’re definitely getting there. Here are a few examples of what we mean, from across our complete range of delivery packaging.
To your cat these are not just recyclable boxes. It is a imaginary castle, a new playground, or a lavish mansion worth them exploring - or simply their new favourite sleeping spot. Molly particularly likes it when her box is left in the morning sun!
When your cat is done with the box, all you have to do is flatten and pop them into your household recycling. It's possible to rotate the boxes every 28 days, with every new delivery of KatKin.
We source our boxes from a FSC certified supplier, which means ensures that all materials come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits. Our boxes are 100% recyclable, and are made with 80% recycled waste products to start. What about the other 20%? We have to use craft liners on both the inside and outside of the box to make them moisture resistant, both to the frozen food inside and externally to the coldrooms where we store them after packing and before collection by DPD - as well as and any incremental British weather they may face during the 24 hour delivery journey.
In the boxes, you will find your fresh meals arrive in an insulated bag to keep the meals at a stable, cold temperature during the delivery window. The bag consists of an outer 100% recyclable food grade polyethylene, and sheep's wool inner, and can be separated by tearing open the bag.
We use sheep's wool for insulation as it's the greatest natural insulator on earth! For thousands of years, sheep have thrived against extreme elements due to the protection their wool coats provide from extreme heat (and cold).
The wool within the bag is 100% biodegradable and compostable. This means the wool element will compost rapidly, where through home composting or through being broken down in general waste. If you place the wool on a home compost, it will naturally break down and release a whole host of nutrients, such as nitrogen, which can fertilise your plants. If instead, the wool lands up on a landfill, it will still naturally biodegrade within 6-12 months, unlike polystyrene which can stay on the planet for a million years.
A few customers have come up with innovative ways to reuse the wool. One option is to use it as a "bed" within the KatKin box, for your cat. Other seasonal ways are to use it to protect plants from frost during the cold spells, or to leave it out for the birds to use for their nests!
The ice packs in KatKin boxes are 100% reusable or recyclable.
For example, now with sunnier weather and us being able to meet family and friends in parks, you can refreeze them to use to keep a picnic lunch cool.
But it’s also easy to dispose of them, as they consist entirely of water and do not contain any of the gels that are sometimes present in other ice packs. To recycle, once the ice pack is fully defrosted, carefully pierce or snip it to empty the water down the sink. The empty plastic bag can be be placed into your household recycling.
At KatKin we purfectly portion the meals for your cat and then gently steam cook their meals in the same pouch we deliver direct to your door. While we're extremely excited about this approach because it enables us to ensure your cat has the right amount of calories and also that we have zero food waste within the KatKin Kitchen, it does mean we use a sous vide pouch that can withstand the steam cooking process at 93C.
While one tonne of food waste has the same impact climate-change impact as three tonnes of packaging waste, we are still working with suppliers on this very challenging area. We have found we're facing the same issue as the giant consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive and Nestlé, and are working with one of the largest packaging suppliers in Europe to develop a home recyclable version of our pouch, to launch in 2021. In the interim, our meal pouches are recyclable through TerraCycle (click here to find out more about them) and we decided to use only daily-serve pouches (containing two meals for the day), rather than single-serve pouches (containing only one meal or part of a meal), to at least halve our use of this plastic.
We have just started designing a Reuse Programme within KatKin and we will soon start working with two partners:
Firstly, with CollectPlus so our KatKin Club cat parents can return their delivery packaging to us, every few deliveries. We will then be able to reuse some of this packaging in future shipments, to extend the useful life of some of the above elements - starting first with the insulation bags and ice packs.
Secondly, with Terracycle to have a KatKin specific recycling programme where our KatKin Club cat parents can earn points and rewards for local animal shelters or their favourite non-profit charity. All pouches returned to Terracycle will be cleaned and melted into hard plastic that can be remolded to make new recycled products.
We're also exploring other ideas to implement - for example sending KatKin Sprinkles "re-fills" rather than a whole new jar.
When these ideas are ready we'll be sure to let our KatKin Club parents know!
The KatKin pawprint
We've only just started at KatKin and while our mission is to put cats (and their parents) first and ensure they have the best possible and complete nutrition, we also want to make sure the KatKin pawprint on our planet is as clean and gentle as possible.
If you have any ideas or have seen something that works really well elsewhere, please do share these with the KatKin team.
We greatly appreciate hearing from you!
Want to learn more about KatKin?
If you want to learn more about KatKin and how we're putting cats first, please click here for more info.