Dog waste gets a bad rap, said Rose Seemann, founder of Aurora-based EnviroWagg.
In its raw state, criticism is due the droppings, said Seemann and others. She is working on a way to turn poop into profits, by creating compost that is safe and marketable.
One dog poop opponent is Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink. In telling dog owners to pick up or pay up, Mink cites the pathogens, harmful bacteria and parasites in dog waste. It doesn’t biodegrade like wild animal droppings. Dog owners must be responsible. “There is no Poop Fairy,” Mink said.
Seemann attacks the problem of dog waste from a different angle. Her business takes a noxious item and turns it into something with value. She calls it “upcycling,” a step up from recycling.
She creates compost from dog waste, and sells it at local garden centers under the name of Doggone Good compost. Her partner is Denver-based Pet Scoop, one of the largest dog waste cleanup services in the Front Range.
Pet Scoop runs a Waste Not program with a weekly curbside pickup for a nominal fee. The company supplies the buckets and replenishes the biodegrable bags.
EnviroWagg has worked since 2007 to develop compost that’s nutrient-rich without the nasty negatives of dog doo. The product is tested at two labs: Colorado Analytics for soil components and Colorado State University for chloroform and roundworms..
Sam Johnson, Pet Scoop owner, estimates that 25 percent of his business is now composted. He hopes to reach 75 percent within five years. The program is gaining in popularity, he said.
He has run Pet Scoop for 18 years. “Back in the early ‘90s, composting pet waste was something we could only dream about,” he said.
EnviroWagg takes a process that’s routine in large agricultural operations and adapts it to an urban setting. The varied diets of dogs make composting more of a challenge than the product of the herbivore grazing of a horse.
At EnviroWagg, Seemann works to increase efficiency. The static process she uses now is intensive and takes time. “This is just the beginning,” she said.