The ecological impact of our products

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When considering the overall ecological impact of a product you must consider the whole lifecycle of the product. This is everything from the growing of the raw ingredients, transporting the ingredients, manufacturing the product, packaging the product, transporting the product to the consumer and finally disposing of the packaging of the product.

At Northern Hound, we have meticulously examined each step and found the most environmentally friendly solutions. We have selected local suppliers of ingredients wherever possible, we have also sourced and repurposed ingredients that would otherwise be headed for the land fill. 97% of our insect protein is upcycled from pre-consumer food waste. Our final produce is packaged in a home compostable bag that is also recyclable within the standard paper pulp stream.

What makes our product stand out and why it is so much more sustainable than other dog food products is our protein source. We use insect protein, specifically cricket and BSFL, this alternative protein source that:

  • Grow 13x Faster
  • Drink 2000x Less Water
  • Consume 12x Less Feed
  • Require 2000x Less Land
  • Emit 100x Less Greenhouse Gases

*vs. beef

The below picturegram illustrates the main advantages of insect protein over typical livestock protein sources.

The above picture summarises the most important key environmental impacts that growing/raising various protein sources have on the Earth. As the growing/rearing stage is by far the most significant stage of our product it is worth examining the environmental effects of this stage in further detail. These effects can be broken down into:

  • Global Warming Potential (GWP)
  • Land Use
  • Water Use
  • Energy Usage

Global Warming Potential: GWP allows comparisons of the global warming impacts of different gases. This is done by equating the global warming effect of particular gas to an equivalent of CO2. Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have greater global warming potential (GWP) than CO2: if CO2 has a value of 1 GWP, CH4 has a GWP of 23 and N2O has a GWP of 289 (IPCC, 2007).

Livestock rearing is responsible for 18 percent of GHG emissions (CO2 equivalent), a higher share than the transport sector (Steinfeld et al., 2006). The global warming potential (GWP) of BSFL is 2.1 kg CO2-eq this is extremely low and is more comparable to plant based sources of protein such as Soy Bean with a GWP of 1.7 kg CO2-eq. In comparison beef is a minimum of 12.5 times higher with a GWP of 25-50 kg CO2-eq. The below graph shows the GWP of various livestock.

Land Use: The amount of land required to rear livestock is of major importance when you consider that livestock currently cover approximately 45% of the Earths total land area.

Insect inherently live and bread in very confined spaces. Crickets and BSFL require very little space compared to every other form of livestock. They require only 0.2-8% of the space that cattle need. It takes approximately 0.5 square meters to produce 1kg of BSFL and 18 square meters to produce 1kg of crickets compared to 250 square meters for 1kg of beef.

These figures do not take into account the land used to produce the feed. Crickets and BSFL are extremely efficient at feed conversion. Typically, 1 kg of live animal weight requires the following amount of feed: 2.5 kg for chicken, 5 kg for pork and 10 kg for beef (Smil, 2002). Insects require far less feed. For example, the production of 1 kg of live animal weight of crickets requires as little as 1.7 kg of feed (Collavo et al., 2005). Also, the edible percentage of Crickets & BSFL is much higher than typical livestock. The below table compares the feed conversion and of crickets to other livestock.

Water Use: Water is a key element of land productivity. A lack of water is already constraining agricultural output in many parts of the world. It is estimated that, by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population will likely be under stress (FAO, 2012b). Increasing demands placed on the global water supply threaten biodiversity, food production and other vital human needs. Agriculture consumes about 70 percent of freshwater worldwide (Pimentel et al., 2004)

To adequately evaluate the water use of various livestock we must also look at the water required for foraging and/or grain production for feed. This is referred to as virtual water. To produce 1 kg of cricket requires 135 litres of virtual water , in comparison;  1 kg of chicken requires 2,300 litres of virtual water, 1 kg of pork requires 3,500 litres and 1 kg of beef requires 22,000 litres- 43,000 litres (Pimentel et al., 2004)

The graph below compares the Virtual Water usage or various livestock.

Virtual water usage per 1kg of live animal weight (liters)

Energy Usage: The energy usage for various crops and livestock can be seen in the below graph. BSFL require approximately 50 times leas energy to raise than Beef.