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Cat food packaging: exposed (New Zealand)

YRE Competition 2021
Litter Less Campaign Article
11-14 years old

Even though pet shops are filled with cat food, supermarkets are also worthy culprits. Plastic packaging comes in all shapes and sizes and cat food packaging is one of them. Although there are alternatives, there is little to no awareness. A glance across a supermarket or pet store would seem ordinary to most, but when scrutinised through a different perspective, may seem foreign altogether.

Casting a blind eye to our problems does not make them disappear. How can it be different with the environment? It is not.

After surveying multiple cat-owners, a majority buy their cat food from "New World". Therefore, I decided to interview "Thorndon New World’s" store manager. Although he was unable to answer my questions, I have gathered that "New World" is sustainable through waste-minimisation, carbon reduction and packaging sustainability. Unfortunately, none of these affect cat food.

47% of cat owners are unaware of the alternatives to single-use cat food packaging. Cat food suppliers need to take responsibility to raise awareness on alternatives. An interview with a dine rep concluded in the fact that it was impossible to recycle the packaging for that brand as they were soft plastics.ncnca

In the United Nations, Global Goals Target 12.2, it mentions that by 2030, the world will efficiently use natural resources. Plastic, being made from natural materials, should be included. This is an ambitious goal, but although people speak of it, no one acts.

After interviewing "Pet Centre Lower Hutt", “Croften Downs Countdown”, "Animates Kaiwharawhara", and the "City New World", all of them took an exceedingly long period of time to respond, and refused to answer any of my questions claiming either that their head office didn’t approve it or that it was sensitive information. Surely they could have answered at least one of my questions, such as “How do you act against single-use plastics related to cat food packaging?” This aroused my suspicions. If they had , would they not have answered promptly and with more detail?

However I received better results from “Nestlé Purina”. Purina is aiming to have 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. Purina has also adopted the Australasian Recycling Label, which shows what product packaging is made from, so customers can correctly dispose of it. Purina are trying to reduce their bad impact in the world. It is also involved in the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme

Royal Canin has yet to respond but in its FAQ’s they said: “Our goal is to use environmentally friendly packaging wherever possible without sacrificing food quality. We have changed our entire canned product line to recyclable packaging. The bags are designed to maintain the nutritional profile and freshness of the product throughout its entire shelflife. Currently a recyclable option that meets these requirements does not exist. We are still searching for packaging that will maintain the freshness of the product, and our goal is to improve our impact on the environment when an acceptable option becomes available.

An interview with a dine representative ended better, with her mentioning the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme, which has been embodied by Countdown in 24 Auckland stores. This is not enough. Not everyone has access to recycling soft plastics easily. There are other alternatives, such as Terracycle. Terracycle provides a successful way to recycle most cat food packaging. Not many people are aware of these alternatives though. Yet another choice is for industrial scale companies to use Mycelium Packaging; sustainable packaging made purely from plastic.

Suppliers, consumers and retailers all need to work together to help the environment. Is this how we want our world to be? Keep New Zealand green.


Queen Margaret College


Article 11-14 years

1st Place
Title: Cat food packaging: exposed
Country: New Zealand

2nd Place (shared)

Title: How has the pandemic affected the use of single use plastics?
Country: Wales

Title: Stop plastic!
Country: France

Is sustainability a joke? (Malta)

YRE Competition 2021
Litter Less Campaign Article
15-18 years old

Who is the future of our country?

Are we teaching them to be sustainable?

Junior College, a post-secondary under the University of Malta guidance this year decided to cover the school's common area chairs and benches with plastic to prevent students from sitting on them to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Paper wristbands were also introduced to monitor students entering the campus. 

When I saw this, an email was sent to the Junior College administration to meet a representative, they accepted and we met on the 9th of December 2020. The discussion started with the wristbands which was stated that these are a directive by the UOM, and they had no control over them, but they where in control of the plastic. This was a short-term solution for the 2020-2021 year. No alternatives for plastic were considered as the representative said that there was not enough time.

Communication with the UOM’s rector office started by a telephone call which the representative from the office explained that the wristbands were not possible to be removed as these were purchased in bulk and needed to be used. The representative also promised that when they finish alternatives will be considered. The office also said that they will be trying to work with the JC administration to reduce single-use plastic.

When the students entered after the Christmas holidays the plastic ended up getting damaged and the administration decided to re-lay the plastic instead of seeking alternatives.  

Another communication to the JC administration was sent with questions about the current waste pilot project, safety regulations which the school has to follow, what type of plastic is being used, if the environmental committee was consulted, if they know how much plastic is being used and if with this action is he helping the government in changing the mentality.

The representative refused to answer my questions, instead they answered by saying that we already met to discuss this issue and that the college over the years took lots of measures in favor of the environment and that the school was obliged to take these measures.

Another communication with the UOM rector’s office was done but the representative explained that the rector will not be giving me a statement as the JC representative already gave me one.

On the 28th of October 2020, the government released a legislation regarding restrictions on placing on the market single-use plastic products. The legislation, which was initiated by the ministry for the environment, climate change, and planning along with the environment and resources authority. The legislation aims to create a cultural shift away from single-use plastic by showing the public the potential benefits it has when we move away from the product.

Dr. Aaron Farrugia the minister for environment, climate change and planning sent me a statement saying that in his opinion plastic is not inherently bad as it is lightweight which reduces transportation energy and is durable which hence reduces material usage. Public health is important for the government and plastic played a crucial role in the fight against Covid-19. “unfortunate thing is when the use of plastic becomes indiscriminate in the context of an irresponsible attitude towards consumption and subsequent disposal” that’s why the government is working on projects to maximize recycling and materials which cannot be recycled be used in a different matter. Single-use-plastic ban on certain products is being prepared after a public consultation last year. Efforts towards raising awareness about plastic pollution and its impact is happening all over the country and he is impressed by the efforts of volunteers and citizens in them. His final message was “I am positive that together we can work towards a cleaner environment and climate-resistant future.”

Oxo-degradable plastic is plastic that is made of petroleum-based polymers that contain additives that accelerate their degradation when exposed to heat or light. When this plastic degrades it creates microplastics that are dangerous to the environment and if they end up in the sea, they will be eaten by the fish we eat. This type of plastic as of January 2021 is prohibiting their placing on the market. Is the plastic being used in Junior College oxo-degradable?

This year the Junior College Student Council started a new venture when it comes to litter as they partnered with Nature Trust in their litter less program to reduce waste in our school. Why is the school working against the council by generating unnecessary waste?

The environmental and resources agency states that businesses and private entities are working to help in creating the necessary shift. Is the school helping with this cultural shift by placing plastic everywhere?

The Maltese government is focusing on reducing single-use plastic and the school is placing plastic everywhere. Is this a contradicting message?

There were many alternatives to plastic. Some of the alternatives were: removing extra chairs and storing them for the future, using material which later can be re-used for example wooden strips, a stamp on the hand instead of wristbands, to mention a few. Why weren’t these considered?

In order for a cultural shift to occur we all need to join hands including; the private sector, education institutions and the government, for the reduction of single use plastic. If we do nothing about this issue, we would have failed the future generations with our actions. 


Benches at JC covered with plastic

By Isaac Sam Camilleri


Article 15-18 years

1st Place
Title: Is sustainability a joke?
Country: Malta

2nd Place

Title: Chews a Better Future
Country: New Zealand