For Man's Best Friend

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The “Company Profile” is an Earth911.com series highlighting consumer goods and services making a difference through product stewardship and recycling. Products and services featured do not pay for placement and are not endorsed by Earth911.com.

Eleven years ago, Alex Fisher was an environmentally-conscious dog owner frustrated by the lack of options when it came to green gear for his pooch. Inspired by socially and environmentally-conscious companies like Ben and Jerry’s and Patagonia, he set about establishing a pet supply company that would do right by the planet as well the humans and animals living on it.

Today, that company, Planet Dog, sells everything from chew toys made from recycled content to biodegradable pooper scooper bags at 3,000 retailers across the country, as well as online.

Earth911 recently spoke to President Stephanie Volo about Planet Dog’s efforts to reduce waste, green the workplace, recycle as much as possible now and find ways to use even more recycled content in the future.

Orbee Tough products are great for your dog and the planet during playtime. Photo: PlanetDog.com

Orbee Tough products are great for your dog and the planet during playtime. Photo: PlanetDog.com

For a Canine’s Canines

Planet Dog’s signature products are their chew toys made of Orbee-Tuff, a recyclable rubber-like plastic that the company developed. “We worked with scientists for over a year to get it right. There were lots of eco-friendly compounds, but finding one that was also durable enough for a chew toy was a challenge,” says Volo.

The company is now also able to collect the scraps and waste produced in the manufacturing process for recycling. All of its peppermint-scented toys, which come in the shape of everything from artichokes to light bulbs, contain at least 20 percent recycled content, and the company also boasts two toys—the RecyleBall and RecycleBone—that are made of 100 percent recycled content.

New Life for Old Toys

Planet Dog also encourages post-consumer recycling by collecting used Orbee-Tuff toys and recycling them into new ones. “We actually hope that as few as possible need to be recycled, because they are very durable. But there are dogs that are able to get through anything—and so we’re happy to be able to recycle those toys, too,” says Volo.

Consumers can simply take them back to the store where they were purchased. Not only will the old toy be sent back to Planet Dog for recycling, but the customer will also receive a new toy free. “People are really excited about it,” says Alison Ballai, owner of Bosco’s Biscuits, a pet supply store, in Carefree, Ariz. Ballai recently started encouraging her customers to participate by placing a return bin in the store. Those who buy directly from PlanetDog.com can get the same deal by sending their used toy to the returns department.

Planet-Friendly Strategies

Other eco-friendly products include leashes and collars made of hemp, a post-bath shammy towel made of 100-percent recycled wood chips, organic cotton tees and pooper-scooper bags made of a biodegradable, corn-based plastic.

At the company headquarters in Portland, Maine, greening strategies include incentives for employees who carpool, tax reimbursements for those who purchase hybrid cars and energy efficient lighting in the office. Planet Dog also supports local environmental efforts, like a citywide bike trail that will allow employees to commute via bicycle. Volo hopes customers will also use it to walk over to the flagship store with their dogs.

Just Around the Corner

Planet Dog is also leading a local recycling initiative that will enable more post-consumer recycling in the state of Maine. “Currently, we’re trying to revitalize the manufacturing sector so there are more facilities to break down the plastic that consumers collect—from milk jugs, soda bottles, etc—and convert it into something that can be reused by industry,” says Volo. That would enable Planet Dog to incorporate even more recycled content into their products.

Philanthropy is a key component to the company’s mission. A percentage of each sale goes to the Planet Dog Foundation, which funds charitable efforts that benefit dogs and other pets. So far, the foundation has given over a half-million dollars in grants and product donations and is now focusing on programs to benefit and train service animals.

Favorite of the Three R’s

Volo says recycling is her favorite R, because there are so many untapped opportunities. “We’re always trying to find new ways to reduce our carbon footprint, but in our industry, recycling just isn’t done enough.”

With Planet Dog, you can “Reduce, Reuse and Rewoof.”

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