With little fanfare, these communities are taking steps to lighten their carbon paw prints. Check out their solutions and see if they might work in your location.
The compostrevolution is an organisation that works with local government in Australia to make it easy for councils to provide residents with a discount on the purchase of bins, including specific bins for pet waste. They started in Sydney in 2012 and currently 36 councils are involved.
Perth, Western Australia
– The doggiedunnie is a dog waste station designed to collect dog poop in compostable bags, and avoid contamination from other rubbish. This Australian design means bins can be collected by green waste services, and the contents transformed into a product that gets reused to nourish soil. If contamination is too high, green bin contents can’t be collected and the contents end up in landfill. There have been and are a few trials being conducted with these bins, for example SA and a WA trial.
– On 1 March 2022, oxo-degradable plastic products will be banned from manufacture and production in South Australia. Oxo-degradable plastic products have additives which enable the plastic to break down into tiny fragments (or microplastics) rather than completely breaking down. This legislation is helping lead to rapid change when it comes to ‘picking up after your dog’. Many councils are getting on board to supply compostable bags in dog exercise areas and to residents replacethewaste.
– An Adelaide-based researcher (aka Dr Dog Poo) is hoping to pave the way for cleaner and greener pets. Researcher and PhD candidate Emily Bryson is determining whether dog poo composted at home is safe for use in backyard vegetable gardens.
– An Adelaide foothills Council trial in 2019 at two dog parks has led to a permanent program to supply compostable bags so dog waste is dealt with via a bio-mediation heating system and turned into nutrient rich garden compost. A feature of the bins is the use of a fill level sensor that helps determine bin collection requirements, saving time and truck kilometres.
– Port Elliot Dog Waste Project aimed to reduce dog waste and plastic bags going to landfill funded by a council Community Environment grant in late 2019. The project included a 12-week trial in a dog park, weighing and recording waste diverted using a modified green organics bin, dog owner surveys about knowledge and behaviours related to disposal of dog waste, improving dog owner knowledge about compostable bags and the compost seedling logo and looking into in-situ and at -home composting options.
– A community group in an inner city suburb of Sydney (Australia) are piloting an innovative approach to recycling dog poo in a local park. The eco-conscious group of volunteers held a fundraiser to pay for compostable dog poo bags and a special organics recycling bin for dog poo. The bin is collected weekly by a commercial organic recycling service – so instead of sending dog poo to landfill (not good for the environment), they will be converting it into compost (good for the environment). They have been successful almost meeting their fund raising target!
– A Sydney suburbs dog shelter catering for about 60 rescue dogs decided to start composting dog poop about 2 years ago.This was an economical decision because composting onsite is cheaper than the transport costs of waste collection! It also just happens to be better for the environmental (more info to come).
– In southern Sydney, the Bayside Council is trialling the use of worms farms to digest dog poo onsite. Phase 1 commenced mid-2019, Phase 2 commenced December 2021. They have moved from using household worm farms to worm pods that can cater for more dog poo. They aim to reduce odour, increase organics recycling, reduce litter bin collections and increase community knowledge about organic recycling.
– The City of Surrey has developed a Dog Off Leash Area Strategy, 2012-2021, that includes a Waste Management section comparing potential future solutions.
– The City of Vancouver took a serious look at composting as a way to deal with the growing volume of dog waste in its public parks – see “Dealing with Dog Waste in Vancouver Parks / Preliminary Research for Dog Waste Composting at Everett Crowley Park,” LEES + Associates Landscape Architects. (No longer posted; contact the City of Vancouver.) The search for solutions continues. “The city’s 11,800 kilograms of dog waste produced each year is too much for garbage collectors.”
– Metro Vancouver will continue to pay contractors to cut open dig waste pick-up bags and stream the contents to a sewage treatment facility. This is just one of several innovative solutions for recycling dog park waste that the city is pursuing to achieve near zero waste.
– Metro Vancouver instructs multi-pet operations to stream pet 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.
– The City of Whistler contracts with a local compost facility which transforms dog waste from its park red bins into topsoil. Their Pick Up Protocol (PUP) program provides compostable bags along with signs, bins and composting services. The compost is tested in accordance with RMW guidelines and meets provincial requirements for Class A compost.
– In 2019 around 74 tonnes of dog waste were removed from Metro Vancouver regional parks, processed and transported to Iona Wastewater Treatment Plant. According to Mike Redpath, director of regional parks, seven other municipalities have started their own programs: Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, Township of Langley, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam.
– Hearthmakers Energy Cooperative in Kingston holds seminars teaching pet owners how to compost dog and cat waste to keep it out of waterways.
– The city of Toronto is aiming at 70% residential waste diversion with the assistance of its Green Bin Program – From Curb to Compost. Pet waste and disposable diapers may be included with other organic Green Bin waste.
– Based on a 2006 City of Toronto waste audit, the city found that dog waste is the largest litter stream by weight in its parks. As a consequence Toronto piloted a Green Bin Dog Waste Plan at several city parks that collects and processes this waste stream.
– The Region of Waterloo’s curbside green bin organics collection program accepts dog waste and kitty litter, as well. The region asks residents not to toss loose waste in the green bin. All waste should be wrapped in newspaper or paper towel, or bagged in a compostable bag. More solutions from Waterloo’s Karen Scian.
– Waterloo’s dog poop power pilot project promises to unleash pet waste as a renewable energy resource that will provide residential electricity.
– A 2018 contract between the City of Ottawa and its waste hauler, Orgaworld, would include provisions for including dog waste and plastic in its residential green bin program. Items included in green bins are diverted from the landfill and streamed to the company’s compost site.
– Volunteers at Notre-Dame-de-Grace Dog Run in Montreal successfully composted dog waste on-site for five years, a program documented in a Concordia University study by Nemiroff_Patterson.
Worcestershire & Herefordshire
– Dog walkers on the Malvern Hills are being encouraged to drop the waste into an anaerobic digester that converts it into methane to fuel a street lamp.
– Denali National Park in Alaska has been composting dog waste from its kennel since 1980! The resulting compost (“jam packed with nutrients”) is used to beautify local flowerbeds and gardens. “By composting our dogs’ waste, we are being resourceful and sustainable.”
– The town of Gilbert, Arizona teamed up with Arizona State University to implement a dog waste biodigestion system at Cosmo Dog Park. (This project was inspired by Park Spark, a temporary interactive art installation at Pacific Street Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts that used methane from biodigested dog waste to light a park lamp.)
– In 2016 Potrero’s Star King Open Space kicked off a first-of-its-kind system in San Francisco for composting dog waste designed to demonstrate how 32 million pounds of waste from an estimated 120,000 dogs could be diverted from the local landfill each year. Although this plan would have moved the city closer to its goal of zero waste, the project was not permanently implemented.
California law prohibits the sale of a plastic bag or plastic food or beverage container that is labeled as “biodegradable,” “degradable,” “decomposable,” or as otherwise specified, eliminating dog waste pick-up bag marketing fraud.
Chesapeake Bay watershed
– In 2015 pet owners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed could apply for funds to purchase dog waste recycling systems that will divert waste and improve water quality. “In extreme cases, 68 percent of bacterial pollution in the Severn River watershed has been recorded as coming from pet waste. And 87 percent of bacterial pollution in the Magothy River’s Forked Creek tributary has been traced back to pets.”
– Boulder Open Spaces and Mountain Parks is now working with Pet Scoop and EnviroWagg to collect and compost dog waste at 17 of its most accessible hiking trail heads. See the EnviroWagg began Boulder OSPMP in 2014 with a pilot program at three trail heads.
– EnviroWagg composts dog waste from many Front Range pet businesses plus off-leash parks in the City of Boulder, Boulder Mountain Parks and Open Space. Lafayette, Louisville, Superior and Thornton.
– The Denver Zoo’s unique gasification project was ready to turn 750 tons of animal waste produced annually into energy. A neighborhood campaign has put the brakes on the $3.3 million process.
– Hillsboro County completed an extensive study including surveys and focus groups in an effort to learn more about stoop and scoop practices, concluding that more research is needed regarding diversion from landfills.
– The University of Florida ISF Extension has posted instructions on safely home-composting dog waste, best practices and use of finished compost.
– Rockville encourages owners to flush their pet waste down the toilet. Please don’t follow the advice re flushing cat waste. Do not flush cat litter near natural water sources where runoff can pollute. Pathogens in cat waste are destructive to aquatic wildlife. Keep cat waste away from untreated water as the feces may contain Toxoplasma gondii, a disease agent affecting otters.
– Park Spark was a temporary installation at Pacific Dog Park in Cambridge that attracted widespread attention when it was initiated by Matthew Mazzotti in 2010. This compelling project transformed dog waste into energy (methane) through a publicly fed methane digester that fueled a gaslight.
– The Joplin Recycling Center gave residents instructions on making a dog waste digester from a plastic garbage can or bucket and lid at their demonstrations in honor of America Recycles Day, Nov. 15, 2016. Dog waste digesters benefit homeowners, neighbors and the environment because they prevent rainwater from washing the waste and bacteria into storm drains and polluting waterways.
– A pilot partnership between dog owners and a compost company in Ithaca, N.Y. completed a large-scale composting of waste collected at the city’s dog park. The multi-year project produced safe compost which was donated for municipal use. See the Ithaca video.
– The Williamsburg East River State Park in Brooklyn is testing the feasibility of on-site dog waste composting using scoopers and cedar bins. “Dog waste in and of itself doesn’t have any value…so we decided to create value out of it by upcycling it to fertilizer,” Leslie Wright of the New York State Parks Department said.
– Battery Park City’s zero waste initiatives includes a program that composts waste for the park’s three dog runs using two retrofitted Earth Cubes manufactured by Green Mountain Technologies.
– In an effort to mitigate dog waste from trails, The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County has introduced simple in-ground septic stations to recycle dog waste at Stateline Woods Preserve. Scoopers rather than bags work best with septic pet waste systems.
– Thanks to Windham Solid Waste Management District, Brattleboro and other communities served by WSWMD, can participate in Project COW (Community Organic Waste) which composts soiled paper and cardboard, food scraps, pet waste, and yard/garden waste. “OTHER WASTE: Garden weeds; fabric softener/dryer sheets; pet wastes or bedding; small wooden crates.”
– Green Pet Waste Composting removes and composts dog waste for environmentally conscious pet guardians at residences and businesses from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon.