Demand for Eco-Friendly Pet Waste Products Grows

Manufacturers of poop bags and pet odor control and stain removal products have always strived to offer the most effective ways for consumers to deal with pet messes. These days, many of these companies are also using natural and environmentally friendly ingredients or materials in response to consumers’ growing demand for green products.

Jenny Gilcrest, vice president of marketing for Skout’s Honor in Irvine, Calif., said the humanization of pets continues to drive the space as owners put the safety of their pets high up on their list of concerns when choosing products, and she noted they are willing to spend more for products they believe will improve the lives of their pets. 

One trend that Gilcrest noted is a move away from enzyme-based products as alternatives hit the market. 

"The new generation of surfactants offer superior performance and the same—or better—environmental responsibility and safety in a much easier to use package," said Gilcrest, whose company makes a line of stain and odor control products, as well as pet grooming items. "You can now experience incredible product performance from an earth-friendly and pet-safe product."

Busch Pet Products, a pet supply store and self-service dog wash in Cape Girardeau, Mo., only carries natural cleaners.

"The odor eliminators are huge, as well as the products containing some sort of oxygen- or plant-based cleanser," said owner Stacy Busch-Heisserer. "Currently, our two best-sellers are Fizzion and Skout’s Honor, with the latter having formulas specifically for cats, along with a cleaner for outdoor areas and a cleaner for toys and bowls."

New and Improved

Animal health and safety continues to be key for Skout’s Honor, which most recently launched a Toy & Bowl Cleaner that uses all GRAS (generally recognized as safe) food-grade ingredients and antimicrobial hurdle technology to eliminate the need for a chemical preservative, Gilcrest said.  

"By eliminating the preservative, you can minimize negative impact on an animal’s gut biome, which is often seen when pets accidentally ingest dish and laundry soap residue," Gilcrest said. "It’s really a must-have for the biome-conscious pet parent, especially if they feed wet or raw food."

When it comes to poop bags, Veejay Patell, CEO and founder of Lake Forest, Calif.-based Beyond Green, maker of bioDOGradable Bags, noted that the overall trend is toward eco-friendly products and that the demand is increasing. 

The problem is, he said, that some poop bags are not as environmentally friendly as they claim to be, pointing to oxo-degradable bags as an example. 

"This is not a true alternative to plastic poop bags, and consumers must look for truly certified products for their claims," Patell said. "Plastic bags are turning out to be one of the major GHG emission producers playing a major role in climate change as well as a big threat to marine life and causing major environmental pollution." 

Beyond Green has introduced a fully automatic bioCOMpet Pet Waste Composter in an effort to solve the pet waste disposal issues while solving plastic pollution issues.

Unique Manufacturing & Marketing in Arvada, Colo., recently introduced a pet odor and stain eliminator geared toward puppy owners.

"We know potty training difficulties can make people consider giving up a dog altogether, so we have created a product to help owners through that challenging time in hopes of making an easier and more effective way to clean up the accidents and get through those months with a new puppy," said Julie Holmes, vice president of sales—pet care. 

With all the new products coming onto the market, many retailers are taking advantage of the opportunity to highlight them in their stores. Gilcrest has seen some out-of-the-box thinking by retailers to help draw customers to stain and odor control products.

"The most effective thing seems to be handwritten notes from staff, stating which products you recommend or use in the store," she said. "The more authentic, the better."

At Busch Pet Products, all the cleaners are displayed together near the waste disposal bags and outdoor products.  

"It’s important to educate customers on the benefits of a plant-based cleaner, and why some of the big name cleaners just mask the odor, not eliminate it," Busch-Heisserer said. "We also work with potential customers on how to best use the product, even going so far as to read the directions label to them. We want them to go home feeling confident that they made the right purchase."

Jason Ast, owner of Just Dog People in Garner, N.C., said stain and odor control products seem to sell themselves at the store, as most people buying these products come looking for them specifically.

"We package stain and odor products in our display kennels, and they are included in the ‘puppy packages’ we sell. Since stain and odor products aren’t normally impulse buys, we’ve found that making it easier for customers to complete their checklist is preferred and appreciated by customers."

Another opportunity Just Dog People discovered is cross-selling a line of odor-eliminating candles next to the cleanup area as well as in its display kennels.

"The candles are half the price of your average fragrance store at the mall, and they really do remove pet odor from the room," Ast said. "Many customers return often specifically for those candles."

Holmes said displaying cleaning products in a well-trafficked area of the store is important. 

"We have some fun signage with our tag line, ‘We Tackle Tinkle,’ that stores can use to show they have a way to solve the problem but in a fun way," she said. "I think retailers can forget how important a clean, odor-free house is to their customers."