New York City, NY

The Great Debate: Composting NYC's Tons of Dog Poop, One Community's Experiment

Sara Irshad

New York City has long struggled with the problem of dog waste. In 2020, the city issued 92,000 dog licenses, but surveys conducted by the city health department indicate that the number of canines could be five times higher than the official count.

In a city where the average urban dog produces significant waste, counted and uncounted dogs generate about 74 tons of poop per day or 27,000 tons annually. The excrement typically ends up in a landfill, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas.

However, in Battery Park City, pet owners work together to create a more sustainable solution. They have been composting pet feces since 2019 to help grow plants on roadside medians. With composting bins in or around the area's three dog runs, the neighbourhood program has already composted almost 5,700 pounds of dog waste, slightly over half a ton per year.

The plan now is to expand the program beyond these eight bins, and by spring 2023, a larger capacity composter that can handle as much poop as the neighbourhood dogs produce will be in place.

The aim is to divert all of the estimated 200 pounds (36 tons annually) of dog waste from landfills, as only 10% of it is currently composted. The Battery Park City Authority, a government organisation managing land in the area owned by the Port Authority, is in charge of this initiative.

Pet waste can be a climate change problem, as the piles of droppings left on the street contain up to 23 million forms of fecal coliform bacteria per gram, which can enter rivers and drinking water or stick to shoes. But it is also an aesthetic problem and a potential health risk.

Roundworms and hookworms commonly found in pet waste can survive for weeks or even years in parks, playgrounds, and other public areas. In 2018, a Penn State survey showed that 25% of urban dog owners do not pick up after their dogs, and their pets' droppings can carry diseases that can be transmitted to both humans and other animals.

The composting stations in Battery Park City consist of small green metal bins for dog waste, and every day, the containers are emptied by employees maintaining the parks and dog runs. The dog waste is weighed, and organic, carbon-filled materials, such as newspaper, wood chips, sticks, or leaves, are added to create energy and encourage microorganisms to break down the poop into compost. The compost is safe for planting beds in medians along the West Side Highway within a year.

The composting program in Battery Park City could be a model for a citywide system, and its success shows how it is possible to make a difference with a little effort. By composting dog poop, the city can reduce the amount of waste in landfills, promote sustainability, and improve the quality of life in public areas.

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I'm a professional content creator and article writer with a passion for crafting engaging and informative pieces. With a focus on technology, business, and lifestyle topics, he creates high-quality content that informs, entertains and educates.

New York, NY

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