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Hamilton's Waste Diversion Project is Doggone Good, says Officials

By Kevin Werner for Hamilton News


A Hamilton pilot project to get people to dump their dog waste into specialized containers has contributed to a cleaner environment, say city officials.


Kara Bunn, manager of parks and cemeteries, said eight months into a year-long pilot project, 1.92 metric tonnes of dog waste has been diverted from the city’s landfill site, removing about 0.23 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the environment and transforming it into electricity and fertilizer.


“It has been a success,” said Bunn. “People have loved it and are using it correctly.”

Bunn said there was an incident when a person attempted to deposit kitty litter into the container. She said litter is a prohibited material for the receptacle.


The city contracted with Sutera, a subsidiary of Melloul-Blamey Construction Inc. in Waterloo, to install three underground concrete chambers at Bayfront Park, Hill Street dog park and Grove Cemetery.


Above ground there is a green structure with a small hole that allows for people to drop their dog waste into it.


Bunn said the Hill Street location has been filling up with dog waste the fastest among the three project sites.


She said other municipalities, such as Mississauga and San Francisco, have conducted studies and found that most of their park waste is dog poop.


Waterloo became the first city to install dog waste containers in its parks after conducting a pilot project in three city parks.


Waterloo diverted nearly eight tonnes of dog waste from the landfill during the pilot project, said Bill Higgins, director of business development Sutera.


“It’s not just diverting waste but also generating electricity,” said Higgins.

He said the project started about two years ago and so far, an estimated 60 containers have been installed by municipalities and private property owners. Higgins said one container can accommodate about 500 kilograms of dog waste.


Higgins said the container is underground where the dog waste is kept cool, eliminating the odour that has prompted criticisms from nearby residents. He has seen dog waste sit in the container for up to eight months before it has been vacuumed without any issues.


Other municipalities, including Hamilton, have taken notice of Waterloo’s success.


Bunn said residents near Hill Street park have complained in the past about odours from the open-air waste containers because of the dog waste inside them.


“We don’t have that anymore,” she said.


The cost for one of the containers is about $4,000, so for three containers the capital outlay for the city was about $11,000. Operating cost is about $4,000 annually. For the three facilities, the operating cost is expected to be about $15,600.


Higgins said a subcontractor using a vacuum truck sucks up the dog waste from the concrete storage facility. It is trucked to a facility outside Hamilton in the Waterloo Region or a waste transfer station, where the plastic bags are shredded from the dog waste and deposited into a landfill site. The dog waste is put into a container where it is turned into fertilizer and electricity.


Bunn said the amount of dog waste taken from Hamilton’s pilot project so far could be used to power 4.59 homes for a year.


The project has also improved the safety of employees who don’t have to pick up the large amount of dog poop, she said.


Stoney Creek Coun. Maria Pearson applauded the preliminary results of the pilot project.


“I would love to expand it across all parks,” said Pearson. “(Dog waste) is the biggest issue in our parks.”


Hamilton has about 10 dog parks across the city.


Bunn said the project will continue until October, with a report to councillors expected in the early part of next year.

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