Happiness for animal, owner & planet – How Vadigran makes a sustainable life with your pet possible

It is a sector that doesn't immediately pop up when you think of sustainability: the pet sector. But with all the food, toys, grooming, etc. that come with keeping pets- you start to wonder. What's the impact associated with keeping a pet? Animals also need to be able to meet their needs sustainably, right?

The Challenge

Vadigran wants its entire range of products to be CO₂ negative within 10 years. In order to learn as much as possible to tackle this sustainability journey, Vadigran first wants to calculate the environmental footprint of 9 of their own Yana grain products.

The Outcome

The environmental footprints of the grain products were calculated through Life Cycle Analyses (LCA) in Ecochain’s software. The results showed that the environmental footprints can be most reduced by: (1) searching for alternative raw ingridients and (2) reducing transportation distances.

Happiness for animal, owner & planet – How Vadigran makes a sustainable life with your pet possible6 min read

People who love animals- love nature.

Family business Vadigran has been producing and supplying pet products of the highest quality since 1955. Once started with the production of grain blends for birds and small animals- Vadigran later expanded its activities to the distribution of accessories and various foods for dogs, cats, small animals, birds, and wild birds.

Vadigran thinks from the needs of both owner and animal. And recently they also combine this with the needs of the planet.

With their mission; ‘creating a more sustainable pet lifestyle’, Vadigran wants to ensure that caring for an animal equals giving back to our planet. Because people who love animals- also love nature.

We strongly believe that if you don’t do this right, you will have no reason to exist in the long run. Or perhaps you will – but just for a very small group of people who keep closing their eyes.

– Wanda Gordts, head of Marketing & Product Development at Vadigran

Translating internal motivation into sustainable action

Vadigran wants to generate sustainable impact and shake up the pet sector. And to do so, they want to create complete transparency in the environmental footprint of all their products. 

With large customers such as supermarkets and specialized pet shops, Vadigran believes that it   can achieve a major positive impact. Sustainability is a learning process that Vadigran is eager to start with. So, they started a new sustainability project.  

The goal: Within now and 10 years, Vadigran wants its entire range of products to be CO₂negative. All products in their range will be replaced with sustainable alternatives. At the moment, the focus is on the learning process of measuring their environmental footprint to implement continuous improvement. This is why Vadigran has chosen to first calculate and reduce the environmental footprint of 9 of their own Yana grain products for birds (5 products) and rodents (4 products). This will then be followed by the rest of their product range.

With this goal in mind, they ended up at Ecochain. 

We needed a user-friendly platform to be able to calculate the impact of our products ourselves. Ecochain has developed the perfect tools for us to investigate this impact. In addition to access to an extensive database, we also receive personalized advice from environmental specialists. It’s exactly what we need to be able to continue learning about sustainability.

– Kobe Cobbaert, Junior Data analyst at Vadigran

Methodology

The environmental footprints of Vadigran’s 9 own Yana grain products have been calculated through Life Cycle Assessments (LCA). These LCA’s are executed in Ecochain’s product LCA tool Mobius- with the main environmental database Ecoinvent 3.5.

To calculate the individual footprints, the corresponding environmental impact values (Ecoinvent) are linked to each step in the entire life cycle of the 9 grain products. Meaning; from the production of the products until their waste phase- the impact is assessed of the obtaining of raw materials, the necessary transport, the energy consumption, etc.

One of the grain mixtures was first modeled in Mobius by Ecochain to show how the calculations of the products work. With support where necessary, Vadigran now performs all calculations itself.

Figure 1. The different phases in a product lifecycle (LCA).

The result: from environmental data to strategic action points

In the end, the total emissions of the 9 grain products did not disappoint (figure 2). And that’s because the grains are natural products without many processing processes / added ingredients. The LCA’s did show that the biggest impact hotspots of the 9 products are located in:

  • The production of raw materials. For example, the production of seeds, kernels, wheat, and oats. Think of agriculture-related impacts such as the use of manure and/or pesticides and energy consumption of agricultural machinery. However, also greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from fossil energy consumption during production processes, such as the processing of seeds.
  • The transport processes. For example via truck and boat. Think of the greenhouse gas emissions that are released over long transport distances.

These ‘environmental hotspot’ insights show Vadigran exactly what they need to focus on to reduce their environmental footprint the most:

(1) Search for alternative raw materials with a lower environmental footprint (through more sustainable agricultural processes or less intensive raw materials).

(2) Shortening transport distances by, for example, working with local suppliers. Or by reducing the weight of the products and finding alternative more sustainable means of transport.

Figure 2. The total Carbon footprint of Vadigran’s 9 Yana grain mixtures – expressed in CO₂.

The steps towards climate positive

Sustainability is not just about measuring. Vadigran wants to use the LCA insights strategically for sustainable development of its entire product portfolio.

With many new products on the horizon, Ecochain will continue to play a supporting role with Mobius. In the end, Vadigran wants to go a step further than CO₂ neutral. They want to constantly improve and work towards a positive climate contribution.  

Ecochain allows us to take our product innovations with regard to sustainability seriously. This allows us to communicate transparently about it and be proud of the steps we are taking.

Kobe Cobbaert, Junior Data analyst at Vadigran
Figure 3. Vadigran communicates the carbon footprint of its Yana grain products transparently to their consumer.

Sustainable product development

In order to achieve their climate target, more and more products will be compared with impact reduction scenarios. Here, alternative more sustainable products are modeled.

In addition, the weight of the packaging of the products is already reduced to limit emissions during transport processes. The packaging is also 100% recyclable by using new packaging material with at least 32.6% less CO₂ emissions. The CO₂ emissions of the Yana products are of course transparently communicated to the customer on the packaging (figure 3).

You don’t do sustainability alone

Finally, sustainability in your value chain also means cooperation. Vadigran, wants to involve more and more suppliers and partners in the entire sustainability process. For example, they are  already working with two partners to reduce shared emissions as much as possible. The remaining emissions? These are of course compensated by 110% through investments in local projects.

Through Ecochain we learn more about sustainable optimizations every day. As a result, we know for sure that we will do better and better in the future.

Wanda Gordts, head of Marketing & Product Development at Vadigran


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