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Product, Service & Design Innovation
How Sustainable Choices for Pet Parents Can Drive Industry Transformation

Progress in pet care sustainability will require industry-wide alignment on key challenges and opportunities. While Petco’s sustainable products commitment is a solid first step, our aim is to make ESG an industry-wide priority to meet the expectations of our savvy, sustainability-minded consumers.

More often than not, transforming an entire industry’s sustainability priorities and progress requires commitment from a corporate titan that will lead the way through innovation and bold action. In the consumer technology industry, Apple reevaluated how it did business with its tier-one suppliers to improve conditions for workers in its global supply chain. In apparel and footwear, Nike has worked for years to set a new standard for environmental impact — with many other leaders driving progress since. There are many other cases of leading brands providing the spark that ignites large-scale and sustained ESG impact over time, pushing peers and competitors forward and leading by example.

Now, a new industry is ready for its sustainability transformation. This week, Petco announced a new commitment to increase our assortment of sustainable products to 50 percent by the end of 2025. As the first company in the retail pet industry to make a commitment of this scale and scope, Petco is building on its progress in sustainability and raising the bar in order to drive positive change.

Working with the ESG experts at Corporate Citizenship, Petco developed a unique product sustainability standard informed by third-party verifications of positive environmental impact, and identified five categories of focus to scale up sustainable product offerings over the next four years:

  1. Responsible manufacturing — brands and products that use responsible manufacturing practices during production

  2. Sustainably sourced materials — products made with materials such as organic cotton or recycled nylon

  3. Sustainably sourced ingredients — food and treats made with ingredients that are more environmentally friendly and/or emit fewer greenhouse gases

  4. Responsible packaging — packaging designed to be refilled with the same type of product or for multiple uses

  5. Animal welfare — brands helping to ensure animals are treated humanely and products meet Petco’s cruelty-free standard

This commitment builds on Petco’s ongoing efforts to offer consumers more choices, both in-store and online: Our owned brand, Reddy, uses recycled materials; our SoPhresh cat litter brand uses refillable packaging, and the pet supplies collection, Started as a Bottle, has repurposed 1.5 million plastic bottles to date. This commitment to increasing our assortment of sustainable pet products is in line with Petco’s recently launched Whole Health philosophy — and follows our decisions to stop selling food and treats containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives for dogs and cats; end the sale of specific electronic "shock" collars; and remove traditional rawhide options from store shelves in favor of better alternatives.

What’s even more exciting than the commitment itself is what it could mean for consumer behavior change, which we know remains critical to ESG progress. Consumers want to know that the brands they buy have a positive impact on people and the planet, and products for their pets are no exception. In fact, according to Nielsen, the US sustainability market is projected to reach $150 billion in sales this year.

For this to be actualized, however, consumers need clear, truthful and easy-to-understand information at point of sale. They need to know that the quality of more sustainable products match or exceed those of traditional products, and that they are price-competitive. That’s why Petco’s new initiative includes new sustainable shopping destinations (in stores and online) and added in-store signage, to help customers easily find sustainable products and learn about their benefits; we’ll continue to build on this with even more information for pet parents over time. Our hope is that by actively promoting sustainable products to our guests — and by using Petco’s omnichannel retail footprint — we are well-positioned to drive consumer behavior change and preference for sustainable products.

Progress in pet care sustainability will require industry-wide alignment on key challenges and opportunities, and a commitment from many others to collaborate with stakeholders and experts to drive change. While Petco’s sustainable products commitment is a solid first step, and one that we are very proud of, our aim is to influence the pet care space at large to do more to make ESG an industry-wide priority and meet the expectations of our savvy, sustainability-minded consumers.