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New Use for Old Rubbish?

On the front page of the SF Chronicle today was an article heralding the coming of a new form of energy: dog poop. Some Bay Area cities have set a challenging goal for themselves of depositing zero waste in landfills by the year 2020. Toward that end, San Francisco has asked Sunset Scavenger, a garbage-collection and recycling company, to find a use for the animal waste that makes up almost 4 percent of San Francisco's residential waste. Norcal, Sunset Scavenger's parent company, plans to collect the dog poop by placing biodegradable bags and special carts in the ever-popular Duboce Park.

While converting animal waste into methane energy is realistic on a large scale, it seems unlikely that  individual homes would produce enough animal waste to power themselves. A more likely scenario would be that a city would use methane digestion and would then supply that energy to individual households.

It does make you think, though, about all those plastic bags filled with dog poop that we send to the landfills every day. Interestingly, according to Carolyn Jones' article in the Chronicle, waste experts say that "the most ecologically sound way to dispose of [dog waste] is to flush it down the toilet, where it can be treated in the sewage system."

February 21, 2006 in Dogs and science | Permalink

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