Beco: Behind the brand

Beco: Behind the brand

Posted by PetDirect on 1st Jun 2021

The Award-Winning Pet Company That’s Flying The Flag For Sustainability

It’s time to care for our planet just as much as we do our dogs. That’s why Beco makes the highest quality products in the most sustainable ways possible to care for your dog and look after our planet.

Beco founder, George Bramble, joins us for a Q&A to explain the ethos ‘Behind The Brand’ of a pioneering British business with customers in 50 countries.

What does the brand Beco stand for?

Beco is a fast-growing, award-winning British brand based in the UK. All Beco products are designed in Great Britain and sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We are constantly seeking innovation that will make our products more sustainable and our motto is ‘Love your dog, love our planet’. The range at Beco has been growing steadily since the company formed in 2009 when we started selling our sustainable bamboo-based dog bowl, which remains a perennial bestseller today.

How did Beco get started? 

I studied geography and environmental sciences at university, and I always had a passion for the environment. I also knew from a young age that I wanted to run my own business but, at the end of my course, I knew that what I started had to go against the traditional grain of business and focus on reducing environmental damage. I’d always loved pets, and I grew up with lots of dogs around.

Back in 2008, we were also in an economic recession. I looked at the dog product market and thought there were huge opportunities for a brand that put sustainability at the heart of what it did. When we were seeking out pet products before we founded Beco, there weren’t any brands or businesses that seemed to be considering the environment. Our founding of Beco set out to change that. We wanted people to be given the opportunity to be able to buy products that were more sustainable and better for the environment but that didn’t cost the Earth.

Fast forward 10 years, and I see myself as very lucky having combined my two passions, for dogs and for the environment

What have you achieved since you began?

Beco now exports to 50 countries around the world and has won a dozen awards over the past 10 years. But we are constantly striving to improve and to find more sustainable ways of conducting business.

Beco also calls on dog owners everywhere to help. The company believes that New Zealand’s half a million registered dog owners can play a lead role in helping safeguard the environment. During the COVID-19 lockdown, air quality improved, pollution has eased, public appreciation of nature and green spaces has grown – but threats from global warming and plastic pollution in our oceans remain.

Beco's call to action: “It’s time to care for our planet as much as our dogs”.

When we launched Beco, our biggest challenge was that sustainable living generally wasn't on people’s radars. It didn't enjoy the media coverage it does today or the mass appeal. We were laughed out of some pet shops and were generally considered too 'niche'. It’s been amazing to see the transformation that has taken place over the past 10 years. We've come a long way and, now more than ever, living sustainably is very much at the forefront of people’s mind.

What are your top-selling products?

We sell a wide range of certified ethical and sustainable products to care for your dog, cats, and our planet, from poop bags to toys and accessories.

Our award-winning Beco Poop Bags are as big and strong as leading plastic poop bags, while being plant-based. These compostable poop bags are made from cornstarch and can be composted at home or disposed of as usual. They completely biodegrade back to their natural elements. At Beco, we are fully committed to helping and encouraging every dog owner to pick up their dog’s poop in strong, reliable and degradable bags.

Our toys include tough, springy natural rubber for the heavy chewers and squeaky soft toys filled with recycled plastic for dogs to wrestle or cuddle. Our playful and interactive toys for cats and attractive litter trays are very popular among our feline friends. We also stock a range of Beco bowls, our worldwide bestsellers.

Why is the brand Beco important?

As Beco enters its second decade in the pet trade, we want to encourage dog owners to make more environmentally friendly choices as ‘pet parents’.

Promoting the ‘green’ economy, valued in billions, Beco's sustainable products have earned The Ethical Company Organisation’s prestigious Ethical Award, and is inviting pet parents to follow its ‘5-Step Green Guide’:

Step 1: ‘Wage war on plastic waste’ Every year, 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans, with drastic effects on marine life. New Beco statistics reveal that last year the company’s worldwide dog-toy sales used recycled, shredded plastic from 1.7 million plastic bottles that might otherwise have ended up in our oceans and it’s urging consumers to cut down on single-use plastic as much as possible.

Step 2: ‘Care about poop’ In Britain, where Beco has its HQ, dogs produce over 1,000 tonnes of poop every day, causing owners, local councils and parks major disposal challenges. The bestselling poop bags Beco produce are degradable or home compostable and packaged in recycled cardboard. Since 2012, Beco poop bags have helped owners around the world behave responsibly by scooping over 463 million poops while minimising their environmental impact. Beco is asking dog owners everywhere to follow suit and dispose of poop responsibly.

Step 3: ‘Investigate ingredients’ We all care about sourcing and Beco has adopted a different approach from many other pet firms. The company is now urging more conscientious dog owners to consider sustainability and the environment when making choices for their pet.

Step 4: ‘Enjoy more exercise’ Walking daily with your dog helps them stay fit and healthy, It also boosts your own mental and physical wellbeing after lockdown. Beco is stepping up its encouragement to owners to increase the amount of exercise they take outdoors with their dogs.

Step 5: ‘Prioritise packaging’ The UK alone produces more than 170m tonnes of waste a year, much of it is food packaging. Supermarkets using excess packaging are facing a backlash from consumers who increasingly favour zero-waste shops. Beco makes its packaging out of materials such as recycled cardboard and PLA, a biodegradable plastic from plant-based renewables. Beco urges discerning consumers to prioritise environmentally friendly packaging as they carry on caring about the planet, and hopes fellow manufacturers also take note.

What materials do Beco use and why?

An essential part of Beco’s brand is based on the fact that the company believes the foundation of any great product is selecting the right materials.

Our ethos is to be eco-friendly and using bamboo to make pet products is how our company began. Much of the bamboo fibres we use are also the by-product of making other products made from bamboo such as chopsticks. Bamboo chopsticks feed 4.5 billion people across Asia every day. But when we launched the company 11 years ago, we spotted another use for one of the world’s favourite feeding utensils – we turned them into pet products. We sourced discarded bamboo chopstick off-cuts from factory floors in China and started making sustainable and biodegradable Beco Bowls. They quickly became popular across the UK and the rest of the world.

Now we’ve sold 2 million products, half a million bowls, and processed 1,500 tons of bamboo. About 20 chopsticks go into every Beco Bowl. Our small idea of using chopsticks has grown into an international business.

We also insist that this bamboo is sourced from sustainable forest. Bamboo grows 40% quicker than any other type of wood fibre and captures carbon more efficiently in a renewable way.

Our range of dog toys also aims to be more environmentally friendly with our rubber toys sourced from sustainably tapped natural rubber. All our toys and accessories are made from 100% natural rubber and recycled plastic. Other materials we use include recycled plastic bottles, helping to create a market for recycled plastics to prevent plastics ending up in our oceans. We also recycle the cardboard boxes in our warehouse into packaging for all our shipments.

Beco is also one of the world’s leading compostable and biodegradable poop bag businesses. We hope that little by little others will be inspired to make their products in a more sustainable way. My vision for Beco is unchanged; always to provide a more sustainable range of products for pet owners everywhere. My vision for the planet is shared by many; to try to reduce our impact on the world and improve rather than harm habitats on land and sea around the world. As a business, we will always encourage our customers and dog owners in general, wherever they are, to make shopping choices as pet parents that are kinder to the environment whenever possible.

What’s brand Beco’s view of plastic pollution in our oceans?

Beco has devoted the past 10 years to creating the most sustainable products known to dogs. Now, there are many growing existential threats to our environment, the company says it's time to care for our planet just as much as we do our dogs.

In the past year, we sold Beco toys made from around 1.7 million upcycled plastic bottles. That’s 1.7 million items of plastic litter recycled, not heading for our oceans, not poisoning marine life. We're doing this because we really care about the environment and we want to pioneer the way. Since 2009, we’ve been pushing plastic-alternative pet products made from bamboo. At first, people just didn’t appreciate why a non-plastic pet bowl was the better option. Now things have changed.

Since Sir David Attenborough’s influential documentary series ‘Blue Planet II’ aired in 2017 highlighting the extreme issues of plastic in our oceans, consumer sentiment has changed. We see the past few years as “pre-” and “post-Attenborough”.

Beco dog toys are made from recycled plastic and, in turn, are 100% recyclable. Once your dog has finished with their toy, you just need to separate the panels and pop it in with your regular recycling. Beco aims to create products that can fit into the circular economy and be repurposed over and over.

Why did Beco launch a re-brand?

When we first launched the Beco Pets in 2009, perhaps rather naively, we felt that we needed the word "pets" in our company name so that everyone knew instantly exactly who our products were for. Now we have expanded our range into poop bags, toys and accessories, and people tend to call us “Beco” anyway. So, we felt it made more sense to drop the “pets”. Beco is true to our mission. “Be eco” folds nicely into “Beco” and we hope this comes across.

Beco also unvieled a new website and a new Beco logo with a company mission statement: "Love your dog, love our planet".

How has Beco engaged with customers by strengthening its online presence?

Beco has just completed an extensive period of consultation and re-design prior to re-launching its new website. Beco’s main aim was to make it easier for customers everywhere to explore the site and instantly access a depth of detail about both our popular and award-winning products and also our general ethos as a company.

Understanding the way Beco approaches the manufacturing of its ranges is key to gathering an appreciation of how and why we choose the ingredients that go into them. Our many friends among our loyal network of retailers and distributors are already aware of Beco’s approach and focus on sustainability, so our new website has also been re-designed with our trade partners in mind.

What does the future hold for Beco?

This next chapter in Beco’s journey is, for us, both challenging and exciting. As we move through COVID-19, we’re keen to encourage dog walking, which can enhance your physical and mental wellbeing. But the ongoing threats to our environment go wider.

As a company, we feel a commitment to the planet and our customers to create the best products we can, whilst striving to be as sustainable as possible. From products to process, our team has worked incredibly hard to make everything the best it can possibly be. As a business we’re not perfect, but our materials and ingredients reflect who we are, whether that be the hypoallergenic BPA-free bamboo that goes into our bowls or the natural rubber that makes up our toy balls.

We are striving to create the most sustainable pet products possible. By using fully recyclable and compostable materials, we try to ensure that what we borrow from nature, we also give back. At Beco, we love to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty (read more here). We’ve cleaned beaches, held tutorials in schools about cleaning up after dogs, and run half marathons for environmental causes. We're in the process of organising a mountain climbing expedition in the Scottish wilderness for our next fundraiser in 2021. It'll be broadcasted on our social channels so we hope everyone in New Zealand will join us and tune in.

Photograph of Beco founder George Bramble and his dog Tarka, by Amy Blackwood.

Shop Beco Range