Planet Positive is a series of Q&As with pet people, from pathfinders to CEOs, producers to consumers, on themes of planet-positive pet-related products. 

By Bianca Kapteyn

Augie Bones is the first plant-based, compostable, recyclable, sustainable dog-tough chew toy.

Tanya Hart, CEO of Titan Bioplastics, and founder of Augie Bones, explains her mission in developing sustainable plant-based materials to create safe, nontoxic and planet positive chew toys for small, medium, and large dogs.  Here’s what she had to say via e-mail.

Canine Culture: Tell us about yourself? 

Tanya Hart:

I spent a 35-year career in the wine industry, managed wineries, distributors and owned a chain of fine wine retail/wine bar shops.  Led a very privileged career tasting and buying wine from all over the world.  After I sold my last wine company, I wanted to do something different…more…and focused on the environment.  Met my business partner David Abecassis who had 30 plus years of experience in polymer and biopolymer sciences and together we started Titan Bioplastics, a material engineering company specializing in producing commercial plant-based composites that could change the plastics industry.

It was slow going at first, 5 years ago companies were all about talking ‘green’ but not actually willing to make any changes to support the talk. They would come to us, learn it costs to make the necessary changes to become actionably sustainable, and then walk away.  For Titan, we have spent a lot of time teaching companies that while there is some cost involved, we can develop materials that can still work in their current manufacturing process.  That’s huge.

When I came up with the idea to do Augie Bones, it also became apparent that leading industry by example with a proprietary innovation was a great way to showcase what Titan can do.

CC: What inspired you to get into the pet product business?

TH: Our dog Augie!  He is an American Staffordshire COVID rescue from Texas we got at 5 months old.  Now 90lbs of love and muscle, he was chewing on all kinds of tough chew toys. We did it all, Bully Make, Bark Boxes, Nylabone, Kongs and Bene Bones. He loves them all. What I didn’t like were the tons of tiny pieces of plastic that were all over my floor and worse, likely also in his stomach.  I turned to my team at Titan Bioplastics and asked if we could produce a plant-based bioplastic that would be non-toxic for dogs and the planet, and Augie Bones was born.

CC: How are Augie Bones sustainable, please explain?  

TH: Augie Bones is a plant-based bioplastic using only food grade materials and additives. Its 100% recyclable, which many tough toys are not, because brands often use a mix of nylon and plastic, which cannot be separated in recycling.

It may be that some brands use pure virgin nylon or plastic, but at the end of the day, we do not want to support the production of more virgin plastics, we want to eliminate the need for virgin plastics, by using only recycled plastics and plant-based bioplastics.  Augie Bones are also industrially compostable.  The packaging is recyclable as well.

CC: Dogs like to nosh on all sorts of things, whether it’s good or bad for them.   

In the event some fragments of the chew toy were ingested, explain how these chews are safe and nontoxic.  

TH: Augie Bones behave like a tough chew toy, however, the materials we use are plant based and have no toxic ingredients if small pieces are swallowed. We are currently running independent tests on our materials to verify their non-toxicity.  In fact, we are creating criteria for the pet industry with one of these tests and hope to have this ‘certifiable stamp’ available for others who are doing the same.

CC: When will Augie Bones be available for sale? 

TH: Made in the USA, Augie Bones is ramping up production with new multi cavity molds, with our Manufacturing partner in Michigan and will be full steam ahead within 8-10 weeks. Just in time for the fall and holiday market!

We have four sizes and three flavors. Tiny, Small, Medium, and Large.

We will also have a unique composite for pups, seniors, and tiny dogs, that’s not as tough a toy and gentler on gums.

CC: What’s new on the horizon? 

TH: One of our latest innovations is a plant based 100% recyclable strong rubber ‘like’ toy, that behaves sort of like a Kong.  Completely nontoxic, yet very fun to chew on. We hope to have samples available for people to see, touch and purchase at SuperZoo. It will also be showcased in New Product Showcase.