Develop a plan

Here is where we separate the dogs from the cats.  Unless an outdoor cat has adopted your garden bed as a litter box, cat poop isn’t a public nuisance. Cats poop less and most are confined to households and facilities where sustainability can be more easily controlled.

Dogs, on the other hand, are more likely to be in enclosures with other dogs or out and about without the benefit of a restroom. That’s why dog guardians often need to develop environmentally friendly waste management programs. Here are some tips from those who’ve created similar plans.

First Step: Scope out how much poop

How much dog poop do you want to process? What is the size of your proposed project? The scale can determine what you do and who you will want to partner with.

Small scale: Multi-pet businesses, organizations or projects serving fewer than 100 pets per day. To determine a quantity, simply weigh the pet waste on an average day.

Medium scale: Bigger facilities, events and outdoor areas with 100-300 pets per day. Calculate the daily amount of pet waste generated by multiplying the average number of dogs by 340 grams (0.75 lb.) and cats by 135 grams (0.3 lb).

Large scale: Park and open spaces systems, cities and regions hosting more than 300 pets.

It’s easy to calculate the amount of pet waste your project will be tackling.

Start with an organizer

Every successful pet waste repurposing project begins with an individual who’s “all in” – excited about the prospects. This leading advocate also needs to be able to generate enthusiasm among others in positions to get the project off the ground and sustain the effort. Are you the organizer for your group? If so, recruit a few partners and build a small starter team.

Taking on a project is easiest if organizers are already deeply connected with a working group that will help with the project from start to continuous operation. If you aren’t, you can find allies and co-organizers in volunteer or advocacy groups, supervisors or coworkers, authorities in a position to help, or simply with like-minded associates. The key is to build sustained support and engagement for the long term so that a project becomes a program.

Social media post recruiting volunteers

Start smart

Rather than diving into a labor-intensive endeavor, check to see if you can outsource services to local professionals already recycling organics. Find out if you have a nearby composter, biodigestion facility or water treatment plant that will accept pet waste. Contact them to see if they’ll process the amount that you anticipate. 

Many facilities will charge tipping fees determined by weight to process materials. If a facility you’re considering for a new project will accept pet waste, factor the fees and transportation costs into your project budget.

If you’re considering a large-scale project in a city or region that already has an organics recycling program but does not accept pet waste, you can organize a grassroots campaign to persuade local authorities to make the change. To accommodate your proposal, the authority may need to find a new recycler if the current partner won’t add pet waste in order to renew the current contract. Or if the current recycler requires an additional fee for pet waste, organizers will need to advocate for a budget that includes pet waste transformation.


Cities and regions with a choice of private contractors can announce a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find a company that will transform pet waste. Before posting an RFP, be sure that there are recyclers in your area that will offer the service.

Advocates for medium-scale and small-scale projects can look for a waste management company that will provide pet waste collection and repurposing for their operation. Local composters may be reluctant to accept pet waste. Don’t give up. You can find information on the EPWN website about research studies and successful programs that can help address composters’ concerns.

If you have questions about finding a solution for community pet management that suits your needs and resources, let us know. An advisor with experience in a similar situation will contact you.

Getting the bins right!

Small steps

Some jurisdictions don’t offer any recycling or are in only the early stages, offering services limited to plastics, cans and paper. These regions often need advocates and grass roots efforts to initiate the next steps toward comprehensive recycling. When starting an organic recycling program, including pet waste at the start is a good zero waste strategy.

Before getting a new pet waste repurposing program into gear, you can sponsor classes on how households can transform dog waste. These classes give organizers an opportunity to educate residents on the safety and benefits of converting pet waste into a useful soil enhancer.

Communities can also offer rebates on commercial units that effectively transform pet waste.

Collection and bagging options

The people managing a pet waste repurposing project may be responsible for providing the supplies and education to ensure the ongoing program success. These include funding, transforming operations (labor, transport), designated receptacles, signs, brochures, demonstrations.  Recyclers may also require specific bagging or non-bagged pet waste.

Certified compostable (DIN EN 13432 in EU, ASTM D2400 in US and AS4736 and AS5810 in Australia) will be essential for pet waste streaming to a commercial composting facility. Biodegradable or oxobiodegradable are not options. 

Newspapers are also compostable and an inexpensive pick-up option used at Battery Park dog run in New York City. Volunteers at the Notre-Dame-de-Grace Dog Run program in Montreal provided re-usable scoopers.