Dog poo disposal is a large issue. There are an estimated 4.8 million pet dogs in Australia, and 96 million dogs in Australia, the US, and the UK alone. An average dog produces about 124kgs of waste per year, and if each dog goes once a day and each of those motions is disposed of using a plastic dog poo bag, that works out to a massive 2900 plastic dog poo bags used each month. If each of these plastic dog poo bags is tossed in the trash and taken to a landfill, that is a lot of plastic and organic matter encased in non-biodegradable materials that will sit in the landfill for a very long time.
Considering the high potential negative environmental impact of dog poo disposal, it is very important to find a good way to dispose of your dog waste to limit this potential impact. While there are many options, not all of them are as effective or good for the environment as they may initially seem. In this article, we will go through the options you may consider before suggesting you turn to the best dog poo disposal method; compostable dog poo bags.
Plastic Dog Poo Bags
As we’ve touched on above, plastic dog poo bags are one of the worst options for dog poo disposal. As regular plastic, they are unable to biodegrade and therefore will stay in the landfill for thousands of years. The plastic bags themselves are also very ecologically expensive to produce, and so they are bad for the environment in all stages of their life cycles.
As the dog waste is being sealed within the plastic, it also does not allow the dog waste itself to decompose at all. Particularly in a landscape such as a landfill, where the materials are compressed and covered in an environment with very little oxygen, these materials have little to no chance at decomposition even if they were able to do so. All in all, plastic is near the worst option for dog poo disposal, and you should consider one of the alternatives.
Burying Dog Poo or Leaving It Outside
When talking about reducing plastic use in dog waste disposal, it is understandable that some people may turn directly to burying their dog waste or leaving it outside. While this is obviously not practical in urban environments, even in more rural areas the logic behind this actually does not hold up. Due to the sheer number of domestic dogs, if everyone were to start tossing their dog waste into bushes or wilderness, not only would it smell, but it also has the potential to spread diseases. Dog waste can spread diseases such as campylobacter, tapeworm, hookworm, roundworm, giardia and E.coli, and rarely, salmonella. While this is not an issue with wild dogs as they roam large areas and do not live in such large, concentrated populations, this is a definite concern for domestic dogs. Therefore, disposing of dog poo in this more ‘natural’ way is not a sustainable solution.
Biodegradable Dog Poo Bags
Many eco-friendly dog poo bags market themselves as biodegradable. Biodegradable dog poo bags are actually quite similar to plastic bags, with the addition of components that help the bags to biodegrade. Due to these components, these bags do degrade faster than plastic bags, typically taking between 6 and 18 months. However, these bags are not as eco-friendly as they may seem.
While these bags do degrade, they are still not fully compostable as they are made out of plastics and thus produce plastic dust and microplastics as they degrade, which are even more difficult to get rid of. Additionally, while they are marketed as biodegradable, they still require specific conditions to optimally biodegrade. These conditions include access to oxygen. In landfills, the piles of waste get trapped under other waste and compressed, which doesn’t allow them access to oxygen and thus slows – if not completely stopping – the biodegradation process. In order to get the best out of your biodegradable dog poo bags, they need to be disposed of in the best way. Otherwise, consider a different option.
Compostable Dog Poo Bags
Compostable dog poo bags are the best currently available option for environmentally friendly dog poo disposal. Compostable dog poo bags are made of naturally derived materials that are compostable, such as plant starch. Unlike plastic derived dog poo bags, these break down completely in the environment and do not leave behind microplastics. The manufacturing of these dog poo bags also leaves a considerably smaller environmental impact than plastic dog poo bags.
Compostable dog poo bags, in order to be disposed of in the best way, should be taken to community green waste composts where they can be cared for appropriately to decompose adequately. While you can technically compost your own dog waste, it does require daily care and turning of the compost pile in order to decompose. If you don’t think you can do this yourself, a community compost might be the best option.