Once you realise this, the true impact of dog poo in the antipodeans can be quickly calculated. There are 4.8 million dogs in Australia which means they produce nearly 900 million kilograms or 90,000 tons a year of unadulterated dog poop a year.
Across the world, that’s more than 10 million tons per annum.
Most countries introduced laws over the last 20 years which mean owners have a responsibility to pick up their dog waste and dispose of it responsibly and safely.
Unsurprisingly, that’s led to a huge market in dog pooh bags.
In the past, the majority of dog poo bags were made from plastic.
Unfortunately, this was not the kind of plastic that can be recycled again and it generally ends up going to landfill.
It led to a change in the market with more manufacturers creating biodegradable bags. But even this isn’t as eco-friendly as most dog owners have been led to believe. That’s why many people have now started to switch to compostable dog poop bags.
Biodegradable dog poop bags are designed to degrade more quickly than your average plastic bag. But what does biodegradable mean? The truth is that it varies under different conditions. The same bag might take months to degrade if it is in a warm environment or it could take years if buried in a landfill.
Let’s start with a definition of biodegradable:
Essentially, a biodegradable product is one that will break down over a short period through the action of microorganisms, the effect of heat and light and in the presence of oxygen.
The trouble is that biodegradable bags that are made from plastic may only partly decompose because they are disposed of improperly and end up in the wrong conditions.
For example, a biodegradable dog poop bag that requires oxygen to decompose may end up in landfill where it is packed tightly together with other waste where there is little or no air. When we talk about full decomposition, we mean that the entire bag has converted to CO2 or water, something which is okay for the ecosystem, and there is nothing left behind.
Traditional plastic bags were made from ethylene which takes a long, long time to break down. They often ended up in landfill because the material is non-recyclable. Biodegradable dog poo bags are no different, however, when they too end up in landfill.
If biodegradable dog poo bags are not the answer for Australian dog owners, what is? The good news is that more and more people are turning to high-quality compostable bags or biodegradable bags that are made from corn and which are much better for the environment.
There are various standards for bags that are classified as compostable or biodegradable in Australia. For example, ours comply to AS 4736 (Australia) which means the bag should disintegrate within 12 weeks and fully biodegrade within six months.
In theory, this means that about 90% of your bag should be converted to CO2 gas and the rest turned to water and biomass in a short space of time.
We all have a responsibility to be greener and take every opportunity we can to reduce our waste. Plastic, non-degradable waste is a real menace today and is causing untold damage to our environment. If you want to make a small change and help save Australia and the planet, switching to compostable dog poop bags is a good idea.