In spite of its image
as a haven for environmentalists and green
company start-ups, Colorado is among the
lowest 20% of states when it comes to recycling.
One big reason for this is that landfill
space is plentiful and disposal fees are
low. In late 2007 the state adopted a Climate
Protection Plan to facilitate the adoption
of carbon reduction practices in Colorado.
This strategy designates solid waste diversion
an integral part in the state's master plan
to apply the brakes to global warming. Many
Colorado municipalities, companies and nonprofit
organizations are taking the initiative
by implementing and expanding local recycling
care of business
EnviroWagg is focusing
on composting dog waste because the majority
of cat guardians use clay litter, which
is strip mined, non-compostable, difficult
to screen out and may contain chemicals
not conducive to the composting process.
Cat waste with compostable litter can be
composted using the same high-volume, high-heat
process that is used for dog waste. There
are other reasons for initiating our program
with dog waste. This material can be easily
collected at large source points (dog day
cares, parks, scoop services). And dog waste
can become a visible public nuisance and
pollutant, whereas cat waste is an invisible
on the scope
The fact that 39% of Colorado's
two million households own at least one
dog is a testament to the high value residents
place on canine companionship. The downside
of dog ownership is disposing of the waste.
Colorado's 780,000 dogs generate an average
of ¾ lb. of waste per day each. That
translates into 585,000 lbs (292.5 tons)
per day and 213,525,000 lbs. (106,762.5
tons) per year.
In urban areas, approximately 60% of dog
waste is thrown into the trash and 40% left
on the ground. Colorado has 19 cities with
populations greater than 30,000. The dogs
in those 19 cities alone stream more than
52,000 tons of waste into landfills.
The Statue of Liberty weighs 225 tons. So
ton-for-ton, the amount of dog waste trashed
by Colorado's 19 largest cities each year
is equal to 230 Statues of Liberty!
How does this quantity stack up against
other recovered materials?
In 2006 Colorado disposed of 34,000 tons
of #1 and #2 plastics. Recycling programs
diverted 20% of this material from landfills
(Analysis of 2006 Colorado Waste Stream
- Initial Findings, Colorado Department
of Public Health and Environment Pollution
Prevention Advisory Board, January 22, 2008).
Nationally, 78 million dogs in the U.S.
generate 10.6 million tons of waste each
year. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization, Americans waste 34 million
tons of food annually. The EPA reports that
it costs the U.S. around $1 billion each
year just to dispose of all its food waste.
The food scraps recovery rate is 3%.
Vancouver, B.C. is coming to terms with
the scope of its dog waste problem. A recent
Sun article reported, "Across Metro,
applying the mathematical formula developed
for calculating urban dog populations by
the U.S.-based National
Council for Pet Population Study and Policy,
there should be an estimated 500,000 pet
dogs. These canines would produce about
167 tonnes of excrement every 24 hours
or 61,000 tonnes a year, equal to five BC
Ferries the size of the Spirit of Vancouver
a process that changes or reconditions an
item that is no longer useful back into
the system for further use. Much of recycling
is "downcycling," that is, turning
the material into a substance with less
value that it originally possessed. Plastics
and mixed metals are examples of items commonly
downcycled. That's not the case with organic
materials, which can be easily upcycled.
"Upcycling" is a process that
transforms the item into something more
valuable than it was at the start. An upcycled
material not only pays back, but pays back
toward zero waste
Several years ago San
Francisco launched a program
to upcycle its dog waste into an alternative
energy source. The city planned to deposit
tons of the material into an anaerobic digester,
which uses bacteria to convert organic waste
into methane gas. The gas is then captured
and burned to produce energy in the form
of electricity and natural gas. (The Park
Spark Project at Pacific Street Park
in Cambridge, Massachusetts provides a small-scale
demonstration of how this works.) The city
has not followed through on this plan, but
is still aiming for zero waste in 2020.
Communities diverting organics with a goal
of zero waste will eventually need to find
a sustainable solution for dog waste. The
US generates approximately 30 tons of food
waste per year and 10 tons of dog waste.
The Denver Zoo is currently operating a
gasification system that converts the
park's solid waste (including tons of animal
waste) into usable, renewable energy. The
poo even powers a zoo facility vehicle!
This program will save the zoo thousands
of dollars annually and provide a model
project for public facilities.
Biodigestion and gasification
require expensive equipment for processing
material and energy conversion. An easy,
low-cost way to upcycle organic material
is to simply compost it. To work its magic,
composting requires only biologically derived
matter, air, a bit of warmth, moisture,
hungry organisms, and a person skilled at
the practice. Composting dog waste is a
creative and elegant solution to an inelegant