Most people pick up their dog’s waste with what they believe is an “eco-friendly” or “biodegradable plastic” poop bag. Even responsible dog owners who have made an effort to buy these greener options may be surprised to learn of the harmful impact they could be having. They think they’re doing their best to help the environment, but it might come as a surprise to you that these bags are made with plastic and may never break down at all. Did you know the average dog can contribute over 730 plastic bags to landfills every year? That’s a lot of waste.

Some dog owners are still using the single-use plastic bags that they get from the grocery store, thinking that they are doing their part as they are reusing plastic. The simple fact is that these bags take thousands of years to break down, and they pollute our oceans and kill wildlife. With the groundswell of the zero-plastic movement, more and more cities are getting on board to get rid of single-use plastics. The time has never been better to search for other sustainable options.

We’ve all seen the horrible photos of dead whales that have hundreds if not thousands of plastic bags in their stomach, and the images of sea turtles wrapped up in discarded plastic bags, but what’s a responsible dog owner to do? Is there such a thing as a poop bag that’s good for the environment?

The truth about biodegradable or oxo-biodegradable plastic poop bags.

We’ve got the scoop on earth-friendly poop bags and how to use them.

With most pet-waste bags, during the manufacturing process, an EPI chemical additive is added to the plastic to help it break down. This creates microplastics that contaminate groundwater and oceans. However, there are no poop bags that meet the requirements for biodegradable dog-waste bags that ensure degradation in a landfill environment. For this plastic to break down entirely, particular conditions must be met. Simply put, when plastic poop bags go into the landfill, biodegradation does not happen because of the lack of oxygen and the circumstances in which complete decomposition are not met.

Also, most bio-fuel facilities have yet to determine the aftermarket use of discarded dog poop collected in a biodegradable fashion.

What are your best options?

1. Paper poop bags. A simple, eco-friendly alternative is K9clean.com NewEco Poop Scoop Bags. These are 100% paper-based and compostable with zero plastic. Unlike their “biodegradable” plastic counterpart, these paper poop scoops are 100% organic and completely decompose. Complete with a handy no-touch scooping system, these environmentally friendly baggies make cleanup easy and green. Generally speaking, these poop bags are the best choice, even when you’re tossing them in the trash.

2. Use a dog-waste-only composting bin. There are several commercial options, but you can also make your own with supplies available at your local home and garden store. Pet-waste compost should never be used on edible plants, but it can be great fertilizer for beautiful gardens. This also works best if you live in a rural area with space away from the house. Note that waste should be buried at least 13 centimetres underground, away from vegetable gardens and water sources.

3. Flush it. Yes, you can flush dog poop in water-soluble waste bags. Check with your municipality to make sure that this is allowed, and never flush pet waste into a septic tank.

4. Transport it to an industrial composting facility that accepts pet waste, or hire a waste-removal company that does the dirty work for you.

Whether you use a pet-waste composter in your backyard or put paper poop scoop bags in the garbage, you’re doing your part by keeping loose poop off the streets and helping with eliminating the use of plastic. These are all better options than letting it sit on the ground.

DogTails will run on a weekly basis. Readers are invited to submit their dog questions and column ideas to info@k9clean.com.

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