Times change, thankfully. Instead of thinking first about how to get rid of waste, more people are now asking how they might put parts of the waste stream to use.
Some landfills now capture methane to power massive generators that feed electricity to the grid; a California company makes biodegradable plastic from organic waste without using petroleum. The list of companies and people involved in promising and innovative work continues to grow.
Dog poop is now on the list of viable new materials from that can be harvested and used from the waste stream. Last year in Cambridge, MA, conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta launched the Park Spark Project, using dog feces to power lampposts in a park.
Mazzotta’s Park Spark Project was funded through MIT and created in partnership with the City of Cambridge. Methane, a common greenhouse gas, is created in a methane digester that converts freshly scooped poop into burnable fuel.
Dog owners collect dog droppings in biodegradable bags, then toss the mess into the digester –- a closed cylindrical container, where the dog feces are broken down by anaerobic bacteria. This process creates methane that is then released through a valve and burned to power an old-fashioned gas-burning lamppost in a park.
Mazzotta has said he hopes to install permanent underground digesters in parks, not only in Cambridge, but also throughout the country.