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Toronto condo adopts new system to divert dog poop from landfills, convert it to energy

A condo on the edge of downtown Toronto has installed a new system to deal with dog poop that diverts the organic material away from landfills and sends it to a facility to be converted into energy.

Dog owners are thrilled.

The set-up involves a bright green receptacle and subterranean concrete container.

Canary District Condos, located on Front Street E. at Cherry Street, unveiled two units at the end of June. A product of Sutera Canada Inc., the units are the first of their kind installed in Toronto. Together the two units cost about $5,000.

Condo resident Jane Salas, the owner of two small dogs Penny and Sierra, said the system makes sense because of the growing number of dogs in Toronto. She showed a CBC Toronto reporter how it works at the front end.

“Okay, I see, all I do is drop it in here, and it’s gone. I heard it hit the bottom,” Salas said.

“We won’t have the smell that we have with the regular garbage. Especially in the city, there is a lot of people with dogs and there is a lot of waste. They are always overflowing, the garbage bins. And especially in the hot weather, they smell,” she said.

“Once people know what it is and they learn, it’s easy. There’s nothing difficult to it.”

Bill Higgins, director of business development for Sutera Canada Inc., said the company came up with an idea to “segregate” dog poop from regular trash after it was approached more than two years ago by a Toronto area community where dog owners were putting poop bags into recycling bins in parks.

“Every community has a problem with dog waste,” he said. “Once it’s been separated from all the trash, it can go from waste to energy.”

Higgins said 13 communities in Canada have installed the company’s dog poop containment system. About 60 receptacles are installed across the country.

Toronto has 230,000 dogs, that’s a lot of poop

There are some 230,000 dogs in Toronto, according to city statistics.

An average urban condo has about seven dogs per floor, with each dog producing about 340 grams, or 0.75 lbs, of waste daily, Sutera says.

The waste is considered to be an environmental problem because the pathogens in dog feces are harmful to the health of humans and animals.

Dog owners can drop any type of bag into the containers, which are precast concrete wells that can hold up to 500 kilograms of dog poop. They are emptied by vacuum trucks.

The waste then goes into a sealed container and the material is disposed at a waste-to-energy facility.

In some cases, the containers are emptied every four weeks, but it can be less frequently depending on need, Higgins said.

“This puts the waste below ground where it’s cool and out of the sun, so it doesn’t decompose as quickly, and virtually eliminates the odours. You may get a little bit,” he said.

Wahed Fidaali, a member of the board of directors for Canary District Condos, said he believes that the system is innovative and cost effective. The condo has 367 units with about 500 residents.

“We recognize that there is a problem, not just within our condo, but in the wider community. Lots of people have dogs, and we just find there’s a pollution problem in terms of dog waste. City receptacles get overstuffed,” he said.

“We were looking to see what we could do. It was a very easy decision for us as a condo to say this is what we can do within our property to help this overall neighbourhood problem,” he said.

“I think people will catch on.”

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