Ever noticed inconsiderate dog walkers leaving their pupper’s poops all over the footpath? How about plastic bags full of canine excrement spoiling an otherwise beautiful spot of nature?
Worcestershire resident Brian Harper did, but unlike you and me, he actually did something about it.
The 66-year-old has developed a system that uses dog poo to power a street lamp on a popular dog-walking route in Malvern Hills, UK.
The ingenious system provides free paper “poop scoop” bags for pet owners to use and contains a special bin connected to an anaerobic digester.
Dog walkers deposit their pooch’s unmentionables into the bin and crank a handle five times to move it into the digester. Here it is heated and broken down by microorganisms to produce methane and carbon dioxide which are stored in small (and extremely smelly) canisters.
When the lamp senses dusk, it will ignite its own gas supply and light up. Brian claims that 10 bags of poo will power the light for two hours.
After investing three years into the project, Brian was rewarded with funding from the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. He has expressed interest in setting up similar faecal facilities elsewhere.
Other anaerobic digesters are common in developing countries, where they produce heat and electricity from recycled sewage and animal manure. It’s even possible to power supermarket delivery trucks with food waste – how’s that for poetic recycling?
However, in the developed world, where fossil fuels are so available and cheap, most of our waste still goes to, well, waste.