I doff my hat to Cristina at Hills for the following about their Virtual Assistant and REDcycle. It is a bit long but is one of the most comprehensive replies to any query I have made to any company and worth publishing. Some members may pounce on aspects of the reply (but please do not!) and should respect Hills were unusually responsive to this consumer’s query. A paragraph is bolded to highlight the salient point regarding REDcycle; the other bolded clauses are as received.
The virtual assistant has only recently been added to our website in the last 8 weeks and I will need to do some updates to improve its vocabulary however there is only so much information the VA can provide before it becomes overwhelming but I appreciate your feedback.
Hill’s and other pet food manufacturers are currently working on a solution to create recyclable plastics for our products; however this is quite a challenging task. There are no pet food plastic packaging bags that are recyclable in the traditional sense (recyclable from home) and the industry as a whole is challenged by creating packaging that is recyclable and maintains the freshness of the food.
With a global supply chain stretching from the United States of America exporting food by container ship to various parts of the world, keeping the food as fresh as possible on its typically 3-4 month journey via container ship, then its transport to various interstate wholesalers, then down to the retailers, then to the consumer who then needs the food to stay fresh once opened, is quite a challenge and paramount to the health and welfare of the pets on our foods.
Organizations such as REDcycle offer technology to break down or repurpose plastics typically deemed “non-recyclable”, however they aren’t “non-recyclable” they are non-recyclable with the recycling technology the country/state chose to invest in which is limited to a very narrow range of certain kinds of waste, other kinds of recycling waste are packaged and sold overseas as a commodity.
REDcycle offers their technology as a partnership service for companies to partner with them to offset their plastic production and I do not believe our bags would necessarily fall under their acceptable products as we use a multilayered resin plastic which may differ to local plastic packaging and may not be recyclable by them.
While partnering with REDcycle or similar agencies is an alternative, there are costs involved in partnering with them which would be transferred to the consumer and as a long term strategy only certain people (such as yourself) would go out of their way to use such a program by collecting the “non-recyclable” material and taking it to a designated bin.
This solution however does not resolve the underlying problem of the manufacturing of soft plastics in general.
So it would only be half a solution as some people would continue to dump the bags as collecting them and taking them to a collection point would be too much effort and what we want is for everyone using our products to recycle them every time as easily as possible or better yet not to have to recycle them at all by making them compostable.
Colgate/Palmolive partners with a similar company called Terracycle who either repurpose or recycle much of the plastic waste generated by toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes etc. https://www.terracycle.com/en-AU/brigades/colgateelectric-au
These programs rely heavily on consumers being engaged in changing their habits and taking the recycling to collection points which puts the responsibility on you the consumer not the manufacturer.
In 2018, through our parent company Colgate-Palmolive, we’ve joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Initiative, and have committed to ensuring 100% recyclable (reusable, compostable) packaging by 2025.
While our commitment is to get there by 2025 we are currently testing various packaging technology globally as we speak and hopefully we will beat this deadline very soon.
Once we have cracked the recycling technology we will share the technology with the rest of the industry much as our parent company Colgate Palmolive has done with the recent release of their recyclable toothpaste tubes which can go into curbside recycling so that we can improve the entire industry and not just offset our responsibility.
What are we doing right now to be more sustainable now?
Today 67% of our packaging (by weight) is fully recyclable and achieving 100% recyclable packaging is one of our top priorities.
Hill’s is also committed to less manufacturing waste with 100% of Hill’s plants that produce dry kibble being certified under the TRUE Zero Waste Program. No other pet nutrition company has gained such a distinction.
You can read more about the TRUE Zero Waste Program here: https://true.gbci.org/
Our ingredients are sourced responsibly with all soy and soy bean products being “Pro-Terra” certified; not being grown on deforested land. Moreover, all of our fish and fish-related products are accredited by government and non-government organizations which oversee fishing/farming practices.
At Hill’s we also transform the lives of people and pets beyond nutrition. We are very proud to partner worldwide with over 1000 shelters, and have helped 1000s of pets find forever homes and are still counting. In Australia, we support all RSPCA shelters feeding every cat and dog awaiting adoption for the last 13 years and 49 other shelters across the country.
If you have any further questions regarding our commitment to sustainability, please don’t hesitate to contact us again or visit https://www.colgatepalmolive.com/en-us/core-values/sustainability for more information.
As we do not partner with REDcycle or any other similar agency we would not be adding the terms to our virtual assistant.
I hope this explains things a bit more for you.
@kim, I trust the above might help inform future Choice articles?