Your pet is cute. Their footprint is not.

Disclaimer: Personality rights were not agreed with Mandu’s lawyer.

Above is our beloved and incredibly energetic cat Mandu (Kathmandu get it?). We were lucky to welcome her into our home during the first lockdown and she has brightened our days ever since with affection, foolery and many funny stories. Although she is unique in our eyes, Mandu is one of 3.2 million new pets which were adopted by families in the United Kingdom since the start of the pandemic. Pets are undoubtedly adorable, but what is their carbon footprint?

In the United Kingdom alone, the pet industry is worth 6.2 billion pounds. With that size comes a large environmental impact. The ownership of an average-sized cat and dog leads to the yearly emission of 310 and 770 kilograms of CO2e respectively. With 12.7 tonnes of CO2 emissions per capita in the United Kingdom, welcoming a cat and a dog in your household would increase your carbon footprint by 8.5%!

A large share of the carbon footprint of pets is due to their consumption of food, with cats and dogs having meat-intensive diets. To my greatest surprise, pets eat nearly 20% of the world’s production of meat and fish. Globally, this consumption of pet food leads to the emission of 106 million tonnes of CO2 annually. This carbon footprint is greater than Qatar’s annual carbon emissions, a country not exactly known for producing a lot of renewable energy.

One could think a low hanging fruit solution to reducing a pet’s environmental impact would be to switch their meat-heavy diet to a vegan one. Being vegan myself, I brought up this point with my family to understand if we could ensure Mandu could be healthy and vegan. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. PETA, which you could trust for their willingness to ensure the wellbeing of animals, seem to indicate that cats and dogs can thrive on a vegan diet. However, it’s not a black or white decision to make as ensuring pets stay healthy on a vegan diet is incredibly complex.

So what can you do as a pet owner if you need to provide meat, poultry or fish to your pets? One solution could be to purchase the food from a company proactively working to reduce their carbon emissions.

Edgard & Cooper have a simple mission: providing nutritious and healthy food for cats and dogs, whilst aiming to minimize their environmental impact.

The food they provide is designed to be packed with nutrients and to be easily digestible by our furry friends, a far better alternative than the traditional processed foods.

Beyond caring for the health of our pets, Edgard & Cooper is also doing its part to care for the planet. The first step the company has taken is to ensure all of their packaging is recyclable and made from recycled materials. As they would say, it’s a paw in the right direction!

On a more long term basis, the company thrives to become the most sustainable pet food company. To do so, Edgard & Cooper has a Zero Pawprint Plan for 2025 with three key targets:

  1. Reaching Zero Carbon

This will involve measuring and reducing the CO2e emissions associated with their operations and supply chain. They are the first pet food to set a Science-Based Target, aiming for a 50% absolute reduction of their scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030.

2. Fully sustainable packaging

Although their packaging is already made from biodegradable materials, they are working to have 100% closed-loop packaging which will involve ensuring that all of their packaging is either reusable, recyclable or compostable.

3. 100% ethical sourcing

Recognising that the factory farming industry is detrimental to the health and welfare of animals, Edgard & Cooper will create ethical sourcing standards and ensure their sourcing criteria go beyond the current practices such as MSC certified fish.

Overall, reducing your environmental impact when you are a meat-based company is not easy. Edgard & Cooper is doing its best to ensure our pets and planet remain healthy.

So what’s the main takeaway for you? Minimizing the carbon footprint of your pets whilst ensuring they stay healthy is tough. It requires a lot of research to ensure we’re feeding them what’s best for them and the planet.

Of course, we have only discussed the food we feed them. The carbon footprint of our furry friends also scales with the toys and equipment we buy them. Additionally, we could consider rescuing shelter pets or welcoming pets that are naturally vegan, but that’s a different conversation!

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Pierre-Louis Godin

Pierre-Louis Godin

Always looking to learn more about environmental sustainability and climate change. I'll mostly be writing about these topics!