Sunday, November 04, 2018

Notes on dog poop bags

At first I thought they were presents left by pixies in the forest. I was intrigued by them…. beautiful little black plastic bags tied neatly in a knot at the top, placed delicately on rocks or in grass along country paths. Were they gifts for me? I couldn’t resist a look. I opened one up and found to my dismay a pile of... dog shit. No, I didn’t really open it. I knew what they were.

It's just hard to believe that dog owner's leave them in the countryside. Quite frankly, I'd rather just see the piles of crap instead of the plastic bags. I'm not sure what the owners expect to happen to these bags – the aforementioned magical pixies to pick them up and dispose of them?

Anyway, even aside from selfish dog owners chucking their little black plastic bags of delight into the foliage, the problem of what to do with those bags – even if you're a considerate dog owner, i.e. you put them in a bin – is a problem that's been debated for years with no solution in sight.

Turns out, for a start, that so-called biodegradable black plastic bags aren't biodegradable at all, and won't degrade fully in a landfill site for anything from ten to 10,000 years. Besides which, animal faeces (which contain harmful pathogens) decomposing in a landfill release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. In modern landfill sites almost no decomposition happens at all.

The alternative is the little plastic bag ends up in an incinerator. Since China banned the UK importing its plastic waste for recycling earlier this year, we've been burning more plastic than ever before: shockingly, the UK now burns more waste than it recycles. Incineration creates harmful dioxins which contribute to climate change and holds back recycling rates which in the UK have stalled since 2013. Greenpeace says incinerating plastic is the ‘wrong answer’ and 'if you build incinerators it creates a market for the next 20 to 30 years for single-use plastics, which is the very thing we need to be focusing on reducing right now'.

I don't have a dog, or even like them, but when something so seemingly trivial as how to dispose of dog shit becomes a major issue lasting years, with no sustainable and safe solution decided, I see no hope for the human race and more importantly, the planet.


Caspar said...

As a sometime dog owner (no longer, alas) I feel it incumbent upon me to tell you that most of us dog lovers hate this stupid practice too. If there's anything actually worse than leaving shit lying around, it's shit + plastic. At least if it were just shit, slugs would eat it. But no, the plastic wrap ensures it stays filthy and toxic for as long as possible.

Barnaby said...

Sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. Yes I agree and realise it's not all dog owners. I knew you were one of the good ones.