we know dog waste is an emotive issue, can cause problems for wildlife and be a blight on the landscape. We know that it can alienate dog owners from their community and costs an enormous amount of time and resource to dispose of safely, so what can be done about it and are there ways of making the disposal easier and less environmentally damaging? This is what we have uncovered…
Is there a green alternative?
Let’s face it, owning a dog brings with it environmental questions. There’s the extra consumption required to feed (and sometimes) clothe them. There’s the increased material consumption (OK I have bought an excessive amount of dog toys and blankets) and then there’s the poo. But before we get rid of them remember…
Dogs are good for us.
They brighten our world, assisting those managing within a disabling environment, provide love and comfort, help us stay fit and healthy, teach us to live in the present, to leap for joy and to poo when you need to! So, let’s celebrate these wonderful creatures and find a solution to the poo issue. There are alternatives to plastic poo bags, there are new waste composter systems and there are even new inspirational ways of capturing waste energy.
Poo bags are convenient but in truth they may carry terrible long-term consequences. What they actually do is to preserve organic matter in an ecologically expensive plastic bag where it cannot decompose. There are some solutions, but it is not as easy as it might seem.
What happens to the dog waste?
When you dispose of dog or cat waste at home in the UK, most local councils say it should go in the bin with your general household waste, but it is worth checking your council’s policy. Some ask for poo to be double wrapped to protect their workers and to prevent smells. Dog waste collected with the household refuse is likely to end up in a landfill or in an incinerator.
Biodegradable bags v compostable bags
It is easy to get hold of more environmentally friendly compostable and biodegradable poo bags. They’re sold in most large pet retailers and independent pet shops, where you can get lots of additional advice and help. Barking Bags provide a free biodegradable poo bag with each bag they sell, but what is the difference between the different types of bags?
Put simply – biodegradable bags will eventually break down in landfill, but they may be made with trace elements of plastic and leave a plastic residue behind.
Compostable bags are usually made with plant-based materials and will break down naturally and can be composted. They are a little more expensive and have a limited shelf life, which can be a challenge; you don’t want one to fall apart on you the moment you’re using it, but they are arguably the better alternative.
Composting the waste
The jury appears to be divided on the costs and benefits of composting dog waste.
Some argue you should avoid composting dog waste for composting purposes. In the search to be more earth friendly and conscientious, pet poo composting seems a logical way to deal with this waste. But sadly, it may not be advisable to put dog waste in home composters. Composting is a natural process to reduce organic waste but unfortunately, our pet wastes contain parasites which may not be killed in household compost piles, unless a constant temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73C.) is maintained for at least five days.
Industry recommended composters.
There are several poo composters on the market, specifically designed to help compost dog waste at home and for use with animal care businesses. We haven’t tested these as it doesn’t seem cost effective with one little cockapoo, but many professional dog walkers and home borders use them. One which gets a lot of positive press is the The Doggie Dooley®.. Apparently, it works like a home septic system, washing solid waste into the septic tank where it is treated and broken down into liquid. It requires you to dig a hole to install the Doggie Dooley® in the ground. Then all that is required is to drop in dog waste, add water and Waste Terminator Tablets as instructed, for continuous breakdown of dog waste. The environmentally friendly Doggie Dooley® pet waste digester is described as ‘harmless to trees and shrubs and ideal for most soil conditions except heavy clay’.
And finally … lets be inspired.
According to Guardian journalist, Jemima Kiss
Inventor and retired engineer Brian Harper launched his dog-poo powered biogas street lamp on a beautiful trail in England’s Malvern Hills. Walkers use free paper dog poo scoopy-bags and put them into a bin that feeds into a biodigester. The microbes in the anaerobic digester produce methane, which is then stored and used to power a streetlamp that comes on at dusk. (Methane-powered lamps have a curiously long history in the UK.)
From stools to fuels: the street lamp that runs on dog do