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Waterloo plans to turn dog poop into an eco-friendly energy source

Dog in a park

Waterloo will become the first Canadian city to harness the power of a widely available renewable source of energy. The miracle power source? Let’s just say it’s been sitting in front of us this whole time.

The city will be putting out special receptacles where dog owners can put their pets’ leavings, which will be used to create biogas. According to Waterloo mayor Dave Jaworsky, the plan will not only generate eco-friendly energy, but it will also reduce litter. “If you look at our municipal litter bins…it’s 40  to 80 percent dog waste,” Jaworsky told the Toronto Star.

So how do dog droppings get transformed into energy? It’s a process known as anaerobic digestion, which occurs when the waste decomposes without any oxygen present. One of the byproducts of the breakdown is biogas, which can be combusted to create electricity and heat (or can be processed into natural gas).

Once owners place bags of dog droppings in the receptacles, they will remain in an underground container for 10 to 14 days, after which they will be sent to a plant that will remove the bags and process the material to create energy. Jaworsky refers to the resulting gas as “poop power,” noting that it isn’t actually that unusual to find a practical use for waste materials.

“In rural townships, this isn’t an uncommon technique to deal with manure and that kind of thing,” he said. “So, it’s really just bringing the rural technology to the urban environment.”

The city will be putting out the receptacles in the next three weeks, and will keep them for a year on a test basis. If it works out, more Canadian cities may soon find themselves powered by canine companions.