ST. LOUIS and ZURICH, SWITZERLAND — Nestlé Purina PetCare announced Sept. 29 it has developed a 100% recyclable, high-barrier mono-material retort packaging option for wet pet food pouches, in collaboration with Amcor.

Amcor worked with Purina to develop the packaging, test it for heat resistance, machine performance, shelf-life stability and real-world recyclability.

“Amcor and Nestlé together have been able to create a unique solution that for years was thought impossible,” said Michael Zacka, president of Amcor Flexibles EMEA. “This high-barrier, high-heat resistant, packaging can be easily recycled within plastic recycling streams already existing in several European countries.”

The packaging innovation will be piloted for one year through the company’s Felix brand in the Netherlands, beginning September 2020 and ending September 2021. The products will be available through Albert Heijn, the country’s largest retailer.

“We want to contribute to creating a world where pets and people can thrive, and initiatives like this support our goal of offering food that is good for pets, and the planet,” said Bernard Meunier, chief executive officer of Purina PetCare’s EMENA zone, which includes Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. “This latest innovation on Felix pouch is a significant step forward in our drive to deliver recyclable or reusable packaging on all of our products by 2025.”

The company cited a need for simple plastic packaging options that are recyclable, yet do not compromise the functionalities, food safety and quality of the packaging or product. Purina’s new recyclable Felix pouches are capable of withstanding the heating and sterilization processes used in pet food manufacturing.

The recyclable material is made from polypropylene (PP), offering a lightweight, high heat-resistant option with the appropriate product barrier features needed for wet pet food. According to Amcor, this solution could reduce the packaging’s carbon footprint by up to 60%.

The packaging solution utilizes Amcor’s AmLight HeatFlex Recyclable technology.

Individual pouches will be packaged in 100% recyclable cardboard made from 80% recycled paper. Each variety pack will include six beef Felix formulas and six chicken formulas.

Purina reported it will implement a more widespread roll-out after gauging consumer responses in the Netherlands.

"The technology to solve the problem of retort recyclability simply did not exist," said Peter Konieczny, chief commercial officer at Amcor. "Amcor's innovation represents a breakthrough for brand owners looking to reach their sustainability ambitions. Brands will be able to stand out and meet consumers' growing demand for more sustainable products by replacing older formats with the latest in cutting-edge packaging technology."

This initiative adds to Purina’s overarching sustainability strategy, improving its ingredient sourcing, water use and packaging, making 100% of its products recyclable or reusable and achieving 100% renewable electricity use at all manufacturing sites by 2025.The company reached its 2020 zero-waste goal for its US operations in August. 

Read more about sustainability in the pet food and treat supply chain.