NEW YORK — Sustainability action platform, rePurpose Global, teamed up with pet food brands Earth Animal and Fera Pets to help recover plastic waste across the beaches of Juan Chaco and La Barra in Buenaventura, Colombia. The team of more than 50 volunteers recovered 16,797 lbs of plastic waste that could have contaminated the Pacific Ocean and risked the lives of migrating humpback whales common to the area.

“It’s our honor to be working with impact partners such as Earth Animal and Fera Pets who understand the importance of plastic reduction and the intricate connection between plastic pollution, biodiversity loss, and the degradation of ecosystems, and are actively taking action against plastic pollution,” said Peter Wang Hjemdahl, co-founder and chief innovation officer at rePurpose Global. “To create a sustainable future, we need to not only mitigate our generation of plastic waste but actively find plastic alternatives.”

Known for its beaches and national parks, Colombia’s Pacific coast is an important habitat for migrating humpback whales. The region, however, suffers from a severe plastic pollution problem due to inadequate waste management infrastructure. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), around 20 million metric tons of plastic waste leaks into the environment annually, causing “profound harm by polluting ecosystems, diminishing biodiversity and exacerbating climate change.”

“We at Earth Animal are dedicated to caring for animals, people and our Earth, and consider the social and environmental impact of everything we do,” said Stephanie Volo, chief impact officer at Earth Animal Ventures. “As such, we are thrilled to have participated in preventing plastic pollution from destroying the eco-sensitive region of Buenaventura. Preserving our natural ecosystems is essential for conservation efforts and is fundamental to human wellbeing.”

Founded in 2016, rePurpose Global is the world’s leading Plastic Action Platform, bringing together brands, consumers, innovators and policymakers to combat the plastic waste crisis. The group has helped recover more than 55 million lbs of plastic waste to date, which has protected coastlines in North and South America, Africa and Asia.

During the plastic waste initiative in Buenaventura, rePurpose Global also planned educational sessions in the local communities to educate the residents about the importance of recovering and recycling plastics.

“This waste collection is very important for me because we are the ones living here, this is our ecosystem and our environment,” said Hugo Ortiz, a Buenaventura community member.

Hannah Hughes, director of Innovation and Sustainability at Fera Pets, added, “As part of the initiative, volunteers were encouraged to bring plastic waste from their homes and neighboring environment, and the collected waste was exchanged for essential items such as cooking tools and games for children, among other things. It was lovely to see the smiles on their faces and the impact we made.” 

Read more about sustainability efforts across the pet food and treat industry.