If you’ve got a pooch or a cat at home, chances are you’ll understand how much mess they can make when they go to the toilet. For dogs in particular, remembering to take a plastic bag with you when walking them is a must to ensure their poo isn’t left on someone else’s lawn or driveway. What’s worse is the smell and mess the poo can leave in your bin until the garbage truck comes.
According to BioBag Australia, there are around 4.2 million dogs in the country meaning that, if each dog was walked once a day and their poo picked up with a bag, there would be more than 1.5 million bags used every year in Australia alone.
With the single-use plastic bag ban in place across most Australian states, people are now looking for other ways to safely dispose of their pet’s poop that doesn’t impact the environment negatively. Many plastic bags on the market take hundreds of years to break down, while some biodegradable bags can leave microplastics behind. However, compostable bags, such as those produced by BioBags, can actually be composted along with pet waste, which means the bag and poo will break down in the garden at home with no toxic residues.
According to the research, recycling pet waste is a great way of nourishing soil, which needs certain nutrients to be fertile. It takes 2000 years to create just 10cm of fertile soil naturally.
While pet waste can’t go into the home compost with food scraps, it can still be used as compost. Unfortunately, pet poo contains parasites, meaning using it in home compost and on your garden can pose health risks – especially if you grow your own fruit and veggies. Still, when kept separate from usual household worm farms or compost bins, it can be effective and environmentally friendly. There’s just a few simple steps to follow.
The first is to get a large bucket with a handle at the top and cut a hole in the bottom. Next, chose a spot in your garden, preferably under a tree or a shrub, so it benefits from the nutrients.
Bury the bucket with the sealed lid about the ground and add a handful of composting worms to it. These worms can be from your own home compost, worm farm, a local community garden or even purchased online or from a garden store.
You’ll also need to add carbon in the form of newspaper, toilet rolls or sawdust to help the process. Carbon helps break down nitrogen-rich manure and you should aim for one part carbon to two parts pet poo.
Similar to your regular compost bin, remove the bucket when the manure has broken down into compost and repeat the process. Alternatively, many local councils around the country have food organics garden organics (FOGO) bins that accept pet waste in compostable bags, so this is also an option if you don’t want pet manure stinking out your bins.
“Diverting plastic from landfill and the marine environment is our number one goal,” BioBag World Director Scott Morton said in a statement. “No plastic should be disposed of to landfill because it’s a waste of a valuable resource. Most of us are aware that plastic bags, including degradable and some ‘biodegradable’ bags, leave microplastic pollution behind.
“Every piece of plastic ever created is still somewhere, unless it’s been burnt.”