Award Winning Natural Planet Organics

It’s Feeding Time with Ecoterah

Located in Franklin, WI, noticed that conscientious consumers committed to green initiatives have moved beyond recyclable packaging to seeking out packaging derived from renewable sources. PCG is introducing an industry-first line of pet food packaging that does not use petrochemicals. The patent-pending food bags have a paper exterior and biopolymer film lining made from corn.

Minnesota-based Tuffy’s Pet Foods Inc., a 45-year-old company, is PCG’s first customer to use Ecoterah packaging. Tuffy’s decided to introduce the Ecoterah packaging for its line of Natural Planet Organics dog foods.

“We felt this packaging was the right thing to do for the environment,” says Jim Farrell, sales and marketing manager at Tuffy’s. “But we also expect it will help boost sales. Customers who want organically grown dog food are the same type of customers who are attracted to earth-friendly packaging.”

Eco-friendly, politically correct

To produce Ecoterah packaging, PCG uses EarthFirst PLA (polylactic acid) film, an earth-friendly alternative to petrochemical-based films. This clear, compostable lining is a carbon-neutral biopolymer manufactured under the trademarked resin trade name of Ingeo. Because PLA is FDA-compliant for food contact, Ecoterah packaging offers consumer and pet food manufacturers a number of benefits:
• By offering a better barrier than traditional plastic liners, it keeps foods fresh longer.
• Because it does not contain petrochemicals, it is safe for recycling, composting, and landfills.
• EarthFirst PLA Film consumes less energy during production, resulting in less greenhouse emission.
• Because it is grown, processed, and produced domestically, PCG has more control over the supply chain.

A natural growth industry

“We’re very excited to be the first to introduce compostable, earth-friendly pet food packaging to the market,” says John Goeden, PCG president. “I tell my customers that they won’t have to sacrifice on their design or printing to use environmentally friendly packaging,” he adds. Ecoterah products are suitable for various printing processes and inks, including soy-based inks.

Goeden encourages customers to showcase their dedication to the environment with their packaging and POP displays. “Consumers who are committed to green initiatives actively look for businesses that share their values,” he explains. “By providing this information, you help boost your reputation—and your bottom line.”

Compared with the new packaging, the previous flexible film pouch package was actually more expensive to produce. PCG tested and retested the new packaging format for durability and for the shelf life of the product inside. The new format equaled or surpassed the shelf life of the old packaging, there was no wicking or spotting from the fat content of the dog food, and it actually provided a better moisture barrier. The final touches were finding a water-based adhesive to seal the package and reducing a 10-color print run to seven colors, with a final pass of water-based varnish for the matte finish.

Plans are to use the new packaging for cat food next, and then market it for packaging with human food for retail. “We don’t have two levels of packaging,” explains Dan Brulz, v.p. of packaging at PCG. “Everything we do is human grade.”

Tuffy’s introduced this packaging on their branded dog food to make a strong first statement about the new packaging, and retailers have shown great interest. In addition to the eco advantages, all materials and production occur domestically in the U.S. “Their packaging is giving them a new story to tell,” Brulz concludes.