Our state-of-the-art composting facility is located in western Washington, on the Key Peninsula. Working in cooperation with Texas Microbial Systems, Inc., we have developed an in-vessel composting system that chops and mixes just the right combination of waste material (nitrogen) and carbon sources such as wood chips, sawdust and grass clippings (and those great compostable bags we are using!) The completely contained process produces microbes that immediately start to break down the waste material By maintaining constant temperatures between 140 and 145 degrees for a minimum of 72 hours, we insure that all pathogens are eliminated before the compost is removed from the vessel. These standards meet or exceed all EPA requirements for composting the types of materials collected by Green Pet. Allowing for an additional cure period of 60-90 days insures that the compost is broken down into fine, nitrogen-rich particles with just the right moisture content, making it perfect for all your landscaping needs.
What is composting?
Composting is the controlled aerobic (oxygen-using) biological decomposition of moist organic (biologically derived carbon-containing) solid matter to produce a soil conditioner. Composting works through the use of microorganisms, mainly a wide range of bacteria and fungi, which break down organic matter. These organisms transport oxygen and moisture throughout the compost mass while they assist the physical and chemical breakdown. Bulking material (typically, shredded bark mulch, straw, leaves or sawdust) is added to help maintain a porous texture that promotes aeration and good moisture content. Pathogens are killed by the high heat naturally generated during the initial process, predatory organisms, and the long retention time in the system.
What makes composting dog waste unique?
While cow, sheep, horse, and poultry manure are commonly composted, dog waste has been traditionally considered as an inappropriate component. Most city agencies, as well as the EPA, discourage placing dog feces in the compost bin along with food scraps. The reason is pathogens. If roundworms and other destructive organisms from unhealthy dogs come in contact with humans, they pose serious health risks. So the message to casual yard composters is “Don’t try this at home.” However, high-volume dog waste composting by conscientious, well-informed individuals is another matter entirely.
Composting in dog yards
Research has shown that the 145 degrees F and greater heat generated during large-volume composting in Fairbanks, Alaska mush dog yards is hot enough to kill even the most stubborn pathogens in dog waste. The study concludes that, with proper instruction, a manager with a yard of 20 or more dogs can compost their waste into a productive soil amendment that is safe to handle and use. The study initiated a program that has been helping dog yards manage waste successfully for more than 10 years. So dog waste composting can be done if approached with due diligence.
What is “upcycling”?
“Recycling” is a process that changes or reconditions an item that is no longer useful back into the system for further use. Much of recycling is “downcycling,” that is, turning the material into a substance with less value that it originally possessed. Plastics and mixed metals are examples of items commonly downcycled. That’s not the case with organic materials.
“Upcycling” is a process that transforms the item into something more valuable than it was at the start. An upcycled material not only pays back, but pays back with interest!
Working toward zero waste
San Francisco has been upcycling its dog waste into an alternative energy source since January 2006. The city is depositing tons of the material into an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to convert organic waste into methane gas. The gas is then captured and burned to produce energy in the form of electricity and natural gas. Dogs in the Bay Area produce an estimated 6,500 tons of waste – nearly 4% of total landfill waste – every year. This project is helping the city reach its goal of diverting 75 percent of its waste from landfills by 2010 and achieve zero landfill waste by 2020.
An inexpensive alternative
An easy, low-cost way to upcycle organic material is to simply compost it. To work its magic, composting requires only biologically derived matter, air, a bit of warmth, moisture, hungry organisms, and a person skilled at the practice. Composting dog waste is a creative and elegant solution to an inelegant dilemma.