There’s nothing like taking a walk on Alaska’s pristine wilderness. Unless you step in something — unexpected along the way. For parkgoers, what dogs leave behind on the trail can be a sensitive topic. Bob Deering thinks worms might be a solution.
A first-of-its-kind system in San Francisco for composting dog waste is designed to demonstrate the potential to keep 32 million pounds of waste from an estimated 120,000 dogs from entering the landfill each year and move the city closer to its goal of zero waste.
The initiative provides dog owners with compostable bags dispensed where they walk their dogs, a collection bin and a pick-up service, which was unveiled at the Starr King Open Space in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood on Sept. 25.
In the U.S. there are no restrictions on how dog daycares, animal shelters and scooper services dispose of the tons of waste generated by their furry clients. Pet poop takes up the most space in their dumpsters, which are collected by trash trucks and streamed to landfills. Metro Vancouver has a better idea. In that city, large quantities of dog or other animal waste are banned from the garbage.
The city instructs multi-pet operations to either transport waste or make arrangements for transporting waste to their closest transfer station or wastewater treatment plant. Dog waste and cat waste accepted at wastewater treatment plants cannot be mixed with clay litter, sand, rock, grit or any kind of bag, including biodegradable.
Several dog waste removal services have disposal privileges at area plants and will contract with multi-pet operations to transport their waste.
What to do with dog poo
Two friends in Albert Lea, Minnesota have launched a dog waste removal service with the mission to “educate and guide pet owners in the safe and responsible composting and upcycling of their dogs’ waste.” See the full story of these two eco-savvy pioneers.
EnviroWagg is customizing a 40-ft. in-vessel tumbler to begin composting dog waste in an enclosed unit. We recently added a new auger and entry chute. An ALLU screening bucket recently arrived on site. This new equipment will break up compostable bags used at the dog parks and screen out any debris left in public disposal bins designated for dog waste. Opening the bags will enable air, moisture and helpful aerobic microbes to process our source material into a safe and productive soil amendment. By the end of 2016 we expect to have finished compost for evaluation. Composting keeps dog waste out of sealed landfills, reduces the volume by 50% and results in a nutrient-rich garden soil.
Composting also reduces methane emissions. Landfill methane is produced because organic materials sealed in a landfill undergo anaerobic decomposition. Basically, this means that because municipal solid waste that is buried in a landfill does not receive oxygen, it will be degraded by microbes that produce methane. A compost pile, on the other hand, undergoes aerobic decomposition. Because it is exposed to oxygen and degraded by a different type of living organisms, composting material produces CO2 (carbon dioxide) instead of methane.
The City of Vancouver will be paying a local company to help keep dog poop out of landfills through a new initiative coming to three city parks.
Although the amount of dog waste that can be diverted from just three parks may seem small, the results of a similar program Metro Vancouver has been running in four of its regional parks since 2011 suggest otherwise.
On average, 1,500 kilograms of poop per month is diverted from landfills through dog waste-only bins at Pacific Spirit Park alone. Between the four parks where the bins are used, Metro Vancouver projects that 30 tonnes were taken out of the garbage stream in 2015, at a budgeted cost less than $50,000.
Red Deer in Alberta is among leading-edge cities collecting pet waste and litter along with its compostables. If all goes well, their two-year Green Cart pilot program will go city-wide in 2017. Will plastic bags be a problem? Not when residents follow city instructions: “Look for compostable bags – not biodegradable or degradable – certified with the BPI or Compostable logo. They can be found alongside garbage bags at most retailers.” And “good guys” GLAD Canada is providing corporate support by donating compostable bags to all pilot households.
So you think you have household recycling covered?
If you recycle with due diligence, your weekly contribution to a truck headed for the landfill is probably small. Especially if you send putrescible waste – organic material such as leaves, branches, grass clippings and food scraps – back to nature.
Do you have a cat or a dog? Then you already know that their poop and litter can really add ballast to the weekly trash bag. Chances are good that this, ahem, organic material is a no-no even for composters.
“Every time I tell someone about my poop scooping business, their first questions is always ‘what do you do with it?’ When I answer ‘put it in the trash,’ it never sounds like the answer I want to really give.” Do you ever feel like that scooper? Join us at our upcoming book signing at the Tattered Cover at Aspen Grove in Littleton for some fun Q&A at our book signing event. The book? Why The Pet Poo Pocket Guide, of course.