Sustainable packaging has come to the cat-litter category, thanks to a joint effort from Nestle Purina PetCare and Ecologic Brands Inc. The package is a rigid container made from recycled, recyclable molded paper pulp, with a closure made from the same material. The brand owner uses the package for Purina Pro Plan Renew premium natural cat litter.
In addition to being easy on the environment, the jug is user-friendly. The packaging design features a sturdy molded handle, a helpful feature for a product with fill weights of 6 and 10.5 lbs.
The jug and friction-fit cap are made from 100% recycled paper and can be recycled in curbside programs; they contain no plastic. And although the pressure-sensitive paper labels and an adhesive used in the package are not made from recycled materials, they are recyclable.
Like the package, the product is eco-friendly. It’s a clumping litter made from 100% natural corncob and cedar, and it contains no artificial fragrance. Pro Plan Renew litter comes in two varieties: Unscented and Natural Balsam Wood Scent.
Julie Corbett, founder of Ecologic Brands, reveals more about the package.
Does this package have a liner?
Corbett: The entire package, including the cap, is made of molded pulp. It has no plastic liner.
How is the package made moisture resistant, so the litter stays dry? Is a coating applied to the inside of the package?
Corbett: Ecologic does not use coatings. The [pulp] thermoforming process, which involves very high heat and high pressure, improves internal and external moisture resistance.
Is there a tamper-evident seal or other mechanism for assuring that the friction-fit cap is not dislodged during distribution?
Corbett: Initially the pulp closure is being kept in place by both friction and application of a small amount of adhesive. We will soon have a cap that is held in place only through friction, without adhesive.
Is there a film membrane across the opening of the jug, under the cap?
Corbett: There is no film membrane sealed to this container; this product does not require it.
Does Purina need to assemble the container prior to filling, or are the containers shipped ready to fill?
Corbett: To meet our launch timing, and due to the new technology involved in making this package, Ecologic currently ships the containers ready to fill; we are moving to having the packages shipped flat, for assembly at [the filling] plant.
Are filling, capping and labeling for this product fully automated?
Corbett: The filling and labeling are automated. Currently the caps are manually applied.
Where does filling occur?
Corbett: Filling occurs at Purina’s co-packing partner.
Do most municipal recycling programs accept the molded-pulp packages for recycling?
Corbett: Depending upon the municipality’s collection infrastructure, this package can be recyclable along with other paper or cardboard products. Municipal recovery/recycling rates for paper and cardboard tend to be much higher than for plastics. [According to the EPA,] 70% of newsprint and 95% of corrugated board was recycled in 2012, while only 9% of plastic generated in ’12 was recycled.