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Eco pet product start-up Project Blu secures investment from Central Garden & Pet

Eco pet product start-up Project Blu has secured investment and a strategic partnership with leading U.S. manufacturer and distributor Central Garden & Pet Company.

The partnership will support the company’s mission to drive sustainable change across the global pet industry.

Central had fiscal 2020 net sales of $2.7 billion and operates multiple distribution centres strategically placed across the United States. The partnership will see Central offer Project Blu eco-friendly products to its extensive list of U.S. brick & mortar and online retailers.

Project Blu is the first global pet brand to offer a full range of sustainable accessories, including beds, collars and leads. The company’s original mission was to reduce global ocean-bound plastic waste by converting it into sustainable fabric designs. As the business has grown, it has established itself as a global leader in tackling the pet industry’s wider environmental issues. These include reducing carbon emissions and water waste in addition to developing a circular lifecycle for pet products.

Since launching in May 2019, Project Blu has sold over 200,000 premium pet products across the globe and has converted over 12 million plastic bottles into sustainable designs. The core product range includes pet beds, collars, leads and ‘plastic’ style products made from recycled fishing nets.

The firm has been assisted by the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP), which provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Project Blu has been making waves internationally, with global pet health and nutrition leader Mars Petcare investing $200,000 into the business in 2020 and awarding the firm a place on the prestigious Leap Venture Studio accelerator programme in Los Angeles. In addition, the company has picked up multiple awards, including ‘Best in Show’ at both the U.S. and European Pet Innovation summits. Thirty-six-year-old founder and CEO Geryn Evans was also selected as one of the ‘next generation of purpose leaders’ by Harvard Business School.

As Project Blu has grown into its role as a leader in pet sustainability, it is developing innovations that tackle the wider issues faced by the pet industry. Amongst these issues are the high levels of carbon emissions in raw materials and shipping and the alarming levels of water waste produced by the pet accessory sector. Virgin polyester, the dominant raw material for most pet products, contributes significantly to global warming.

“Most pet owners do not realise that polyester is an oil-based plastic and the manufacturing comes with extremely high levels of carbon emissions and water waste. By swapping to sustainable alternatives, we can reduce carbon emissions by up to 85% and water waste by 75%,” said Geryn Evans, Project Blu founder and CEO.

“To put this into perspective, if every pet owner in the U.K. decided to swap their traditional dog beds to a sustainable alternative, it could save over 175,000 tons of CO2 and the equivalent of over 300 million bathtubs of water every year. It would also save over 30,000 barrels of crude oil. This highlights the significant difference that can be achieved by raising awareness and making small changes to our daily activities.”

Jon Balousek, President of Corporate Development at Central, commented on the investment in Project Blu: “Central Garden & Pet strives to partner with industry-leading companies of tomorrow, and we are thrilled to be working with Project Blu, a company dedicated to designing and manufacturing premium durable pet accessories while also preserving and caring for the environment. At Central, we are committed to creating a sustainable future for all, and we look forward to working closely with Project Blu to make a difference.”

Since signing up to the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP) programme in 2019, Project Blu has received mentoring and specialist advice on market analysis, funding and planning for growth. This support has proved “invaluable”, according to Evans.

“As a young, agile company, it’s been invaluable to have the support of our relationship manager and other experts. The advice and expertise we have accessed have helped me enormously as I’ve grown the business from an ambitious start-up to a global leader in the sustainable pet accessory space,” Evans continued. “We are very grateful for the service we have received from the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme and would recommend it to any business looking to scale up and grow.”

Richard Morris of the Excelerator Consortium, which delivers the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme, said: “This is a great example of an ambitious Welsh business seeing the tremendous growth opportunity in sustainable products. Project Blu have developed a fantastic range of products that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions as well as water consumption. Their work to scale their product globally and bring the benefits to pet owners and the planet is something we can be proud of in Wales. Geryn and his team are highly talented and hardworking, and we are delighted to support them with our experienced advisors. We hope their success will inspire other businesses to work with us on the great opportunities for products that help the planet.”

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