Woman in a mask holding a pet food bag recycling signBaer & Associates is proud to partner with CABKA, a member of the Pet Sustainability Coalition, to be a part of their latest endeavor, the Flex Forward pilot program.

The packaging solutions team at Baer has spent countless hours and has been actively engaged in launching this exciting new program.

According to Baer president, Pat Loftus, “As a packaging solutions company this is a program we are extremely proud to be associated with. Baer leadership and our manufacturing and retail partners have collaborated on an unprecedented level for the good of the environment, rolling up our sleeves and examining non-traditional solutions to what has become a significant global challenge. As a result of these many supplier/distributor/retailer/consumer collaborations, the Flex Forward initiative has come to life.”

Flex Forward Pilot Program:

An estimated 300 million pounds of flexible plastic pet food and pet treat bags are generated by the pet industry in the United States each year – the majority of which are made of multi-laminate flexible packaging because it does the job so well. Multi-laminate flexible packaging provides superior durability, excellent design aesthetics, and an ability to include a clear window for product viewing – which can be a valuable retail sales tool.

However, because of multiple layers made up of various materials, this type of packaging is nearly impossible to recycle. Even if it were recyclable, the cost associated with recycling this type of plastic is more expensive than the value of the materials. This leads to an astonishing amount (an estimated 99%) of used pet food packaging on a path straight to landfills.

The Flex Forward program is a revolutionary “return to retail” program that allows customers to return their pet packaging (no matter the brand) to the retail store from which they were purchased. The packaging is then collected and shipped from a Petfood Experts distribution center to a recycler where the packaging is ground into pellets and upcycled into new pet products (toys, etc.) destined for donation at animal shelters and rescues nationwide! As a packaging solutions company, Baer is also working with a key partner, Cabka, to use these upcycled pellets to manufacture reusable pallets for use in shipping over and over and over again – in a concerted effort to make the world a better place.

What does this program look like fleshed out? This pilot program has been tested in over 100 independent retail locations, including Pet Pros, in the Pacific Northwest and, in a matter of months, over 7,000 lbs (about 33,000 bags) were recycled. Not only does this create more return visits from customers to retail locations, but it creates a unique sense of loyalty to the retail location, consumer and retailer striving together for the common good and making a tangible difference.

Want to learn more about the Flex Forward program – or find out more ways to get involved? Reach out to John Lawton for more information!