There is an estimated 3.972 million dogs (across 2.8 million households) in Australia which are walked around our neighbourhood and in urban parks, that is, ‘dog parks’. These parks (whether designated “off-leash” or otherwise) are a source of large amounts of dog waste, which is typically collected by the owner in plastic bags and deposited in bins serviced by Councils (or taken home) and then transferred to landfill. The disposal of dog waste in high-density dog populations is a significant problem. On average, a dog produces 0.34 kilograms of feces per day. Consequently, there is approximately 1, 350.48 tonnes of dog waste to be disposed of every day in Australia; 492, 925 tonnes per year. That’s a lot of poo! As the dog population in Australia continues to grow, so will the issue of dog ‘waste’ disposal in a waste management system of increasing urbanisation, a limited amount of suitable park spaces and shrinking landfill sites.
Surely we can put it to a better use than sending it off to landfill in its (non-degradable?) bag :)
Well, we can convert the dog waste into a renewal energy source by placing it in an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to convert the organic waste into methane gas. Then this fuel can be used to power (for example) street lamps. The publicly-fed methane digester becomes an interactive urban intervention that questions the current dog waste system and at the same time creating an opportunity to participate in the (re)imaging of the by-product energy (methane). Furthermore, the principles can be transferred to other animal wastes… and even human waste. Imagine public toilets being used to generate light to increase public safety at night!
So how do we do this?
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