Up until recently, Woody and I were using degradable poo bags to pick up his waste. I thought they were the most sustainable option available. However, it turns out they’re not as eco-friendly as they may seem. Today I thought I’d discuss greenwashing in the dog industry and why we’ve swapped back to plastic poo bags.
There’s a host of degradable/biodegradable poo bags available at the moment. Often marketed as being a more eco-friendly choice for you and your dog. They come with a higher price tag than your standard plastic poo bags of course but are they really as planet friendly as they claim?
DOGSCLOSURE: I received a discount on our Cosy Canine Company dog walking bag in exchange for a mention in our Summer Dog Walking Essentials blogpost in 2018
What Does Degradable Really Mean?
Bioplastics and degradable products are a popular choice in the nation’s fight against single-use plastic. They’re made from organic biomasses such as corn starch or bamboo and are often marketed as ‘compostable’ or ‘degradable.’
Unfortunately, you can’t just stick these products in your garden compost and expect them to break down. They need very specific conditions. Temperatures need to be at least 50 degrees centigrade and they also need to be exposed to UV light. The majority of bioplastic products sink in water. Essentially, they’d still end up polluting the planet if they found their way into our oceans.
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is when a company makes an unreliable claim about the environmental benefits of their product, service or brand. Confusing terminology, product labelling and marketing all contribute to greenwashing. It misleads eco-conscious consumers, who think they’ve put the planet first.
Greenwashing is prevalent in most industries, including fast-fashion companies and even fossil fuel giants. The pet industry is guilty too. On top of degradable poo bags, you can also purchase bamboo bowls (guilty!) toys and accessories for your dog, all of which claim to be sustainable.
How does Cornwall Dispose of Waste?
Cornwall operates a weekly household waste collection. Recycling is fortnightly but it’s due to switch in 2020. There are no longer any operational landfill sites in the county. Instead, it’s taken to transfer stations at St. Erth, Newquay, St. Austell, Launceston or Pool to be sorted. The majority of non-recyclables are finally sent the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre in St. Dennis.
The Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre opened in March 2017 to tackle waste management. When the incinerator is working, it converts the energy from burning non-recyclables (including poo bags put in dog waste bins) into electricity. This powers around 21,000 homes in Cornwall each year. Our nearest anaerobic digestion plant is in Holsworthy, Devon. However, they can’t take bioplastics. They aren’t compatible with their systems and take too long to break down.
What’s the Alternative?
After researching bioplastics and waste management in the Duchy, I’ve reverted back to plastic poo bags. I’m no longer wasting my money on poo bags that claim to be sustainable, because they’re simply not! Saying that, plastic poo bags aren’t exactly the perfect option either. We can’t leave dog poo in situ, so what else can we do?
I’ve certainly considered reusing single-use plastics to pick up Woody’s poo. Things like crisp packets or packaging from the supermarket. They’re going to end up in the bin anyway, so why not give them one final purpose? Some owners pick up their dog’s poo in newspaper, which is a pretty nifty idea. Another option is to scoop poo straight into the waste bin using a trowel or spade. You’ll just have to make sure your dog always does his/her business right by the bin!
Do you use plastic or degradable poo bags? What are your top tips for being more sustainable as a dog owner?
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