Let's talk about sustainability: Four key takeaways for positive impact

May 11, 2021

From the biggest names to the newest startups, everyone in petcare has a part to play in the global challenge.

In the last decade, everyone was talking about the move to digital. Now, they’re talking about sustainability. David Attenborough said in 2020 that the next ten years would define the next 100 years - and everyone has a part to play.

For the latest in our Unleashed Talk series, we welcomed Kerstin Schmeiduch, Purina’s Head of Corporate Communications and Sustainability for EMENA.

Kerstin ran some interactive polls to find out the audience’s level of expertise on all things sustainability. While everyone is interested in sustainability, there were a lot of misconceptions, which goes to show the task ahead of us. Click here to see our audience’s answers - right and wrong! For the right answers, stay tuned, we will publish them in our Slack community. If you don't have access to our Slack Community yet, you can request an access here.

Kerstin also shared how Purina is heading towards sustainability – and how startups can get there too. Here are four key takeaways.

1 – Look to reduce emissions at every stage of your product’s life

We identified eight stages of the life of a Purina product, what we call ‘farm to bowl’ – and beyond!

  • Agriculture
  • Raw material suppliers
  • Manufacturing
  • Packaging
  • Logistics
  • Retail and business channels
  • Consumers
  • End of life

You can only act on the things you measure. At each stage of the journey, we measure where we are, then figure out what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint.

Startups need to do the same. Even if some factors - like external suppliers - may be beyond your direct control. The more granular you get, the more impact you can have.

“‘It’s all about understanding your footprint, from beginning to end..”

Kerstin Schmeiduch
Head of Corp. Communications & Sustainability, Nestlé Purina EMENA

2 – Three new things we are doing at Purina

After spending a good part of 2020 analysing Purina’s footprint at every stage of the process, we’re now focussing on implementing solutions to move from high carbon to low carbon activity.

In addition to these ongoing activities, here are three things we’re exploring and testing:

  • Ingredients – testing and bringing to life products that are not only made from animal-based proteins but also from alternative protein sources, such as plants and insects.
  • Manufacturing and logistics – using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, such as hybrid trucks and electric cars
  • Packaging – we created the world’s first recyclable pouch
‘Not all the solutions are in place. A lot needs to be co-created, invented, innovated. This is where you have a big role to play.’

3 – Startups can be “sustainability natives”

Bringing in changes like these at Purina is a mammoth task, altering processes that have been in place for years. But, if you’re running a petcare startup, you’re ideally placed to build a sustainable business from the outset. It’s where you have a competitive edge over the big players!

If you have the specialised knowledge to put sustainability at the core of your business and use your speed to market to your advantage, you can make a big difference. More and more consumers want sustainable solutions, so it’s also good for business. Make sustainability your way of standing out from the crowd and gaining a competitive edge.

‘Sustainability by design. Make it your whole reason to be.’

4 – It’s not all about the bottom line

It’s time to get real. Bringing in new systems creates tension and causes you to have some critical discussions. You’ve just got to do it.

Today, profit and loss is no longer the only way to measure business success because it doesn’t account for the impact you have on the planet’s resources. There has been a paradigm shift. We must look at things more holistically. Success is success for the company, the world and its people.

‘Bring everybody together. Solve the problem. Figure out how we’re going to do it - together!’

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