The city of Waterloo is now looking to turn one of its least wanted forms of waste, dog droppings, into one of its most wanted commodities, energy.
Dog owners will deposit their dogs’ waste into small, bright green bins with dog-shaped openings around the city — which doesn’t take any additional effort on the owners’ part. It’ll then be stored in an underground container before being vacuumed out and shipped to an organic waste plant. Through a process called anaerobic digestion (breaking a biological material down in the absence of oxygen), the waste will produce a gas that can be burned for heat and energy. The leftover material can also be used as fertilizer.
Waterloo’s mayor, Dave Jaworsky, explained that this “poop power” — the process of breaking down organic material in an oxygen-deprived environment and burning it for energy — is already being used in other rural areas.
“In rural townships, this isn’t an uncommon technique to deal with manure and that kind of thing,” he told The Star. “So, it’s really just bringing the rural technology to the urban environment.”
Waterloo, Ontario will be the first Canadian city to run the pilot program. And according to Jaworsky, there’s a lot of potential energy going to waste in that city alone: “It’s actually a big issue, dog waste. If you look at our municipal litter bins… it’s 40 to 80 per cent dog waste.”
You can credit the idea of bringing poop-fueled power to Canadian cities to a local construction worker. “He just thought, you know, ‘There must be a better way to do things,’ and came up with this idea,” Jaworsky explained. The man then took his brilliantly crappy idea to Sutera, a U.S. waste company that agreed to help launch the pilot program.
Should the initiative be successful in the coming weeks, we may see the concept taking shape in other cities across the continent, too.
If you’re a dog owner living in the Waterloo area and want to contribute to this new, poop power generating program, look for the bright green boxes at your local park.