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

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

Like many business owners, George Bramble was in a panic when Covid arrived.

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

Beco is trying to create food and products in a more sustainable way and started with a dog bowl made from unwanted chopstick scraps from Chinese factories. One million bowls have sold to date.

“When we went into custody, like any business owner, I was terrified,” said George. “I didn’t know what would happen. But what has happened is an explosion in the number of pet owners.

It is estimated that 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic.

George Bramble and his dog Tarka
George Bramble and his dog Tarka (Photo: Beco)

Sales at Beco are up 50% from a year ago, in part because of more pets, George says, but also because more people are making a conscious choice.

“We thought our target customers were over 35 customers, but we found the market was now between 20 and 32 years old. There were few brands like ours ten years ago. Today the market for dogs and cats has changed.

More and more people are looking for brands with a history and the market has shifted to us. People aren’t that much interested in buying just because it’s cheap or functional, they want to know where it’s made, how it’s made, what’s the story behind it.

Beco’s story began in 2009 when George, who studied geography and environmental science at university, heard about plant pots made in China from chopstick scraps.

Beco's Rough & Tough Turtle, made from recycled fabric and padding, reuses what's already there to help keep our oceans clean.
They have a range of recycled or all-natural dog toys (Photo: Nicholas Barella)

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

“We have experienced organic growth, not supported by venture capitalists, but rather through the old-fashioned way of credit cards and sustainable growth. It was sometimes word of mouth.

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

The range has expanded to toys – some made from natural rubber and others from recycled plastic bottles – as well as poop bags made from compostable cornstarch and dog food made from chicken and wild boar raised in outdoors, which have a low carbon footprint thanks to its free diet. 1% of Beco’s sales go to environmental causes.

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

George admits that having a pet is not in itself particularly environmentally friendly. Half of UK adults are believed to own a pet and study suggests that an area double the size of the UK is used to produce dry cat food and dogs every year. But small steps can make Fido or Tiddles a little more environmentally friendly.

“If you have a dog, it has an environmental impact, so the question is, how do you reduce that impact? Looking at recycled materials, natural materials and also by donating to causes, it reduces as much as possible. ‘

Not all products have been successful, but George is never afraid to try something new. “We’ve had a few non-runners over the years. We originally threw a natural rubber ball with a strong rice husk center. It was like a shot put – I hadn’t thought how heavy that would be. The boxes were tearing and he was falling out of the packaging. It was like throwing a cricket ball, not very suitable for a park.

Beco now wants to get into sustainable dog treats, create more cat products, and invest in becoming B Corp certified, recognized as a business that balances profit with people and the planet.

Beco’s headquarters in Wimbledon isn’t just a place for the team of 30 employees – there are plenty of furry colleagues as well.

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

How your pets impact the planet

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

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association reports that 11% of all households have a new pet during this time and more than a third (35%) of young adults (aged 24-35) already have a new pet. or are considering adding one. to their families.

Pets in the UK now emit 1.3 million tonnes more CO2e than before Covid, according to The Eco Experts, with dogs responsible for more than half of that total.

In association with the Federation of Small Businesses.

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