2014 was a groundbreaking year for the pet dog population of the UK. According to PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers' Association) the pet dog population now stands at 9 million canine companions http://www.pfma.org.uk/pet-population-2014 , an increase of 12.5% from 2012 levels. It also brought us through quite a significant barrier: Research indicates that an average dog produces 340g of fecal matter per day x 9,000,000 dog population = 3,060 tonnes of poo per day x 365 days per year =
1,111,900 tonnes of dog poo annually
Over one million tonnes of dog poo is produced in the UK annually - an astounding figure...!
So what is the impact of this volume of waste ?
Consider the fact that 90% of this waste is deposited in public spaces and we have a significant social problem for local authority planners and dog owners alike. From a local authority perspective, many councils across the UK continue to grapple over the problem of public dog poo and dog owners who stoutly profess they clean up, but don't. Nevertheless, this issue continues to be emotive for many in local government, and still remains a problematic issue crying out for some common sense thinking, and clear, concise strategies and policies.
Environmentally it is a potentially damaging issue that is underestimated.
Dog owners are supposed to pick up after their dog has done it's business - "bag it and bin it" is a well used motto by many....but what happens to the millions upon millions of small plastic bags containing one individual bowel movement of each beagle, dalmation and chihuahua? Estimations are that 80% of the collected dog waste in the UK ends up in landfill. Most environmentally minded dog owners probably use biodegradable bags, which given the right conditions will perform as promised. However here is the catch - conditions in landfill are far from ideal and prevent organic waste from decomposing, and chances are those biodegradable bags will still be there in 20-50 years time, maybe even longer. Whilst in the meantime the contents of the bags are contaminating water and producing harmful methane gas that is roughly 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
So then we get to the financial cost of finally disposing of this million tonnes of dog waste....
As of 1st April 2014 Landfill Tax is £80 per tonne, so lets say for arguments sake that only 40% of the UK dog waste was ending up in landfill - that still equates to over £35 million in tax alone - to put dog waste in a hole in the ground in small plastic bags! Add on to this the cost of dealing with the sharp end of the problem: collection, disposal, cleaning, education and community engagement and the actual true financial cost of dealing with dog waste is far likely to be closer to £100 million per year.
This number crunching on dog poo tells a woeful tale. An ever increasing dog population, combined with cuts to local authorities' budgets and pressure to reduce biodegradable municipal waste being sent to landfill and we have a recipe for worse to come in the future.
Our GeoVation project was specifically designed with these statistics and facts in mind. Combining an alternative disposal method that generates renewable energy from dog waste, and a technology based system that engages and educates dog owners and non dog owners alike through a destination enhancing mobile application. A win-win-win scenario for all concerned, and definitely a step in the right direction to finally overcome this emotive and potentially damaging environmental issue.