Plastic and Dog Food Doesn’t Mix
Nearly every brand of dog food in Australia comes packaged in a plastic container or bag. Sure it looks nice, but there is a hidden cost to putting food in plastic. Not only can be a health hazard to your dog, it’s creating significant environmental issues too.
The problem with plastic is that chemicals leach into the food it’s in contact with. One of these chemicals is bisphenol A, commonly called BPA. BPA is an endocrine disruptor which mimics the body’s hormones and can cause serious health problems for you and your dog.
The good news is that the world is slowly waking up to the harmful effects of BPA. It has just been declared a toxic substance by Canada due to it's link with cancer.
Yet here in Australia we still putting our food in plastics containing BPA. The government’s official position is that BPA is safe, which is odd because it is simultaneously phasing it out of some product categories. If BPA is so safe then why legislate to get rid of it? It doesn’t make sense. It seems that the government has sided with industry over consumers health, presumably because plastic packaging is much cheaper to produce than the alternatives.
What about BPA-free?
In response to the growing awareness of the dangers of BPA laden food products, there has been a trend towards “BPA free” plastics which do not contain BPA.
Problem solved! Right?
The issue here is that we know very little about what chemicals BPA is replaced with. At the present moment the vast majority of research has been into BPA, not it’s replacement chemicals. We don’t really know what the effect these new chemicals will have on the body. Unfortunately for the moment “BPA free” is essentially a marketing term rather than a scientifically proven statement that a substance is not harmful.
Don't forget about the environment!
The other issue with plastic is that it takes an enormously long time to biodegrade. Your average plastic bottle takes 450 years to degrade. A huge amount of this plastic ends up in the ocean, creating havoc for the environment and sea life. And global production of plastic is increasing exponentially, so the problem is getting worse, fast.
There are alternatives to plastic though!
One such material is made with sugar cane pulp, a by-product of making sugar. The sugarcane pulp is turned into a substance which contains no chemicals like BPA, and is easily biodegraded. 3 months in the compost and it’s gone! Even better, cane is a rapidly renewable resource, so even it’s production is environmentally friendly.
That’s why when we were researching packaging materials for Whoa Nelly! Dog Food we decided to use BioCane instead of plastic. Honestly, it seems like a no-brainer! It costs a little more than plastic but it doesn’t have any associated health risks and it has minimal short and long term impact on the environment. What we didn’t realise is that we are Australia’s only plastic free dog food.
The real question is why everyone else is still putting food in plastic.
With viable alternatives to plastic now available, it really comes down to people voting with their feet. By choosing products that are environmentally friendly and ethically produced you are choosing the sort of world you would like to live in.
Honestly, we’re not hippies!
We just don’t want to be putting chemicals in our dogs food or plastic in our oceans. We may be Australia’s only plastic free dog food, but we’re hoping we’re just the first of many.