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Disposal of Dog Waste: Bag it, Bury it, Flush it

When we take our dog Cleo out for a walk, we carry poop bags. It is a reflex to grab house keys, wallet, phone, hat and poop bags before heading out with her. Sometimes I might add hand sanitizer to a pocket. Poop bags are never optional, though the type of bag can fluctuate. We have used lavender-scented and biodegradable bags, a reused newspaper bag, and even reused fruit and vegetable bags from the store.


In addition to getting people to automatically pick up their dog's poop, disposing of the poop is hotly debated these days. Do you bag it? Flush it? Bury it? We don't like the idea of adding to landfill but in the city, when given the choice, leaving the poop to be stepped in or washed into the San Francisco Bay through a storm drain is a bad idea and our initial focus. However, if biodegradable bags create methane, a greenhouse gas, in a landfill, then what? Read more of the debate and share your ideas in the comments [...]

Via Eco-friendly disposal of dog waste

Dilemma: Short of training my dog to hold it, is there a eco-friendly way to get rid of dog waste that's still sanitary?

Of course I'll: Bag it and throw it in the garbage.

Trade-off: I'm not sure the bag breaks down if it goes to the landfill.

Then I'll: Flush it.

Trade-off: Can the sewer system handle it?

Experts say: Proper disposal of dog waste isn't just about keeping streets and parks clean; it's a minimum requirement for ensuring public health. Robert Reed, Recology's public relations manager, points out that "when it rains, fecal waste from pets winds up in storm drains, creeks and eventually the bay."

Biodegradable and bio-based bags, such as those made of corn, are a good choice if you're trying to stay away from petroleum-based products. But if the bags head to the landfill, chances are they're not breaking down in a meaningful time frame anyway.

Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says: "Most landfills operating today are designed with the idea that they should protect the environment as much as possible - they are built with numerous layers of liners and cover systems in place to help reduce leakage and so forth. What that means, though, is that it's also hard for air and liquids to circulate, and the circulation of air and liquids is what helps to facilitate biodegradation."

And when something organic does biodegrade in the landfill, it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas not always contained in the landfill.

Manufacturers like Doggie Dooley or Staywell Eco Clean have come out with in-ground dog waste digesters than convert dog waste to fertilizer for nearby plants. Reed says that for residents of San Francisco, Recology's suggestion is even easier: "Flush it. The (sewer system) is designed to manage and process fecal matter."

Tyrone Jue, San Francisco PUC spokesman, confirms that the utility can handle dog waste. "But not the bags - not even the ones labeled compostable or flushable," Jue says. "They clog up the equipment."

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