Pet ownership is growing and so is the amount of pet waste being produced. Our planet’s health relies on reducing the amount of waste going to landfill sites, especially when there are other options.
It is estimated that 18.6 million tonnes of dog and cat waste is produced in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia every year. The majority of this is in the U.S. where 83 million dogs and 93 million cats generate almost 15 million tonnes (16 million tons) of it. That’s enough to fill 159 football fields (including end zones) 3 metres deep (10 feet)! In the United Kingdom, the number of dogs is estimated to be 12 million and 12 million cats (2021), in Canada 5.9 million dogs and 7.9 million cats and in Australia there are more than 6.3 million dogs and 4.9 million cats (2021).
How does that stack up against other trash? While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t recognize pet waste as a specific material like paper, food or plastics, a rough calculation indicates that poop composes approximately 12% of the total waste stream in the US . So as a proportion of the municipal waste stream, pet waste ranks with wood or textiles.
Unlike inorganic recyclables, pet waste emits methane – a potent greenhouse gas – while slowly decomposing in landfills. In the U.S. landfill accounts for more than 17% of all methane emissions. In Australia landfill accounts for 25% of all methane emissions.
Abandoned dog waste can also do serious damage to waterways, hiking trails, beaches and parks. Each year tonnes of cat poop and litter is trashed and streamed to landfills.
Diverting pet waste is one piece of a huge eco puzzle that needs to be addressed if we want to achieve zero waste. Together we can meet the challenge!