It may be all fun and games for Fido, but when dogs chew their toys to bits, the leftover plastic pieces pile up in landfills. In 2005 alone, Americans generated 6.5 million tons of nondurable plastic.

The environmental impact of doggie destruction got pet toy–maker Spencer Williams thinking. Williams’ Montana-based West Paw Design already used recycled materials like soda bottles and production scraps in beds and toys, and manufactured products in a green building. But to take the company’s eco-practices one step further, Williams and his engineers developed a new, rubber-like material called Zogoflex. Zogoflex differs from other plastics typically used in dog toys in that it’s engineered to be recyclable and is made from an FDA-approved material.

Now if Spot gnaws up his Zogoflex frisbee, his owner can send the broken remainders back to West Paw, where they’ll be ground down, made into a new toy of the owner’s choosing, and returned at no extra cost (besides the shipping, that is). Owners can also opt for a cash refund if they don’t want a new toy. Overall, the whole process creates less than one percent waste. “Our view is pets are one with the planet,” Williams says. “It seems contrary that by making your pets happy, you would be compromising the environment.” Now that’s something to chew on.     

Story by Jeanette Hurt. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in March 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008