Sustainable dog food could help offset the impact of having a pet

A sustainable pet brand

Sustainable pet brand Beco is trying to reduce the impact of fur friends on the planet (Photo: Beco/Matthew Lloyd)

Like many business owners, George Bramble was aghast when Covid arrived.

But amid all the uncertainty, his company, pet brand Beco, was about to get an unexpected boost.

Beco is trying to create food and products in a more sustainable way, and it started with a dog bowl made from junk pieces of chopsticks from Chinese factories. Millions of bowls have been sold so far.

“When we went into lockdown, like any business owner, I was terrified,” says George. “I didn’t know what would happen.” But what happened was an explosion of pet ownership.

An estimated 3.2 million households in the UK have had a pet since the start of the pandemic.

George Bramble and his dog leaving

George Bramble and his dog Tarka (Photo: Pico)

Sales at Beco are up 50% compared to last year, in part because of an increase in pets, says George, but also because more people are making a conscious choice.

“We thought our target customers were over 35 years old but we found the market now is between 20 and 32. There were a few brands like ours ten years ago. Now the dog and cat market has changed.”

More people are looking for brands that have a story and turn the market towards us. People are not interested in buying just because it is cheap or functional, they want to know where it is made, how it is made, and what the story behind it is.

Biko’s story began in 2009 when George, who studied geography and environmental sciences at university, heard about plant pots made in China from leftover chopsticks.

Beco?  s Rough & Tough Turtle, made with recycled fabric and wadding, is reusing what is already there to help keep our oceans clean.

They have a range of natural or recycled dog toys (Photo: Nicholas Barilla)

With only a few thousand pounds he ordered 18,000 bowls to be made and it turned out to be a huge success.

We grew up organically, not backed by venture capitalists but the old school way of credit cards and growing sustainably. It was too easy sometimes.

The company now expects to earn £10m over the next year.

The collection has grown to include toys — some made from natural rubber and some from recycled plastic bottles — as well as stool bags made from compostable cornstarch, and dog food made from local chickens and wild boars, which have a low carbon footprint thanks to a forage-free diet. 1% of Beco’s sales go to environmental causes.

They even have sustainable dog food (Photo: Matthew Lloyd)

George admits that owning a pet is not environmentally friendly in and of itself. Half of all adults in the UK are thought to own a pet, and one study suggests that an area twice the size of the UK is used to produce dry pet food for cats and dogs every year. But small steps can make Fido or Tiddles kinder to the environment.

If you have a dog it has an environmental impact, so the question is, how can we reduce that impact? By considering recycled materials and natural materials as well as giving reasons, it reduces as much as possible.

Not every product has been a success, but George is never afraid to try something new. We’ve had a few starters over the years. We originally launched a natural rubber ball with a hard center made from rice husks. It was like a gunshot – I didn’t think how heavy it was. The boxes were torn and falling out of the package. It was like throwing a cricket ball, and it wasn’t very suitable for the garden.

Beco now wants to move to sustainable dog treats as well as create more cat products and invest in B Corp certification – recognized as a company that balances profit with people and the planet.

Beco HQ at Wimbledon isn’t just a place for a team of 30 – there are plenty of furry fellows, too.

We have three or four dogs in the office, it’s the happiest place. It can be messy but it is very happy.

How your pets affect the planet

With millions of other pets in the UK during the pandemic, the environmental impact of dogs and cats will only get worse.

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association says that 11% of all households have a new pet during this time and more than a third (35%) of young adults (ages 24 to 35) already own a new pet, or are planning to add one new. for their families.

According to The Eco Experts, pets in the UK now emit 1.3 million tons more carbon dioxide than they did before Covid, and dogs are responsible for more than half of this total.

In partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses.

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