What is a Pet Waste Digester?
A pet waste digester is a great companion to your backyard composter. It is designed to handle organic waste that should not be placed in a backyard composter, such as pet waste, meat, dairy, and processed foods. Each digester can manage about 5 to 6 kilograms per week. For an average size household, it may take years before it fills and needs to be relocated. Digesters do not make finished compost, however, the materials will break down and provide a source of nutrients to the soil.
How does pet waste affect surface and groundwater?
Pollutants from pet waste may be washed into local creeks and rivers by rain or melting snow. When pet waste is washed into lakes or streams, the waste begins to decay, releasing ammonia and using up oxygen. Low oxygen levels, ammonia and warm temperatures combined can kill fish. Pet waste left on the ground eventually leaches through the soil and into the groundwater contaminating it with bacteria and nutrients.
How does pet waste breakdown in a pet waste digester?
A pet waste digester works like a miniature septic tank allowing pet waste to be broken down by natural bacteria, enzyme cultures, and microorganisms in a contained area. This reduces the harmful pathogens and contaminants, and prevents them from being washed into our rivers and lakes, or leaching from landfills and into groundwater.
How is pet waste detrimental to the environment?
Animal waste contains two main types of pollutants that harm local waters; nutrients and pathogens. Dog waste has a high phosphorus concentration, a nutrient that negatively impacts water quality and plant species. When this waste ends up in bodies of water, it decomposes, releasing nutrients that cause excessive growth of algae and weeds. This makes overly fertile water that turns murky, green, smelly, and unusable for swimming, boating, or fishing. The pathogens, disease-causing bacteria and viruses, can also cause severe illness in humans.
How to set up and maintain a pet waste digester.
- The best spot for a pet waste digester is away from all vegetable gardens, in an area that is convenient and has good drainage.
- With a shovel, mark the outside diameter of the digester and then move the unit to one side.
- Dig out the circle you have just marked to a depth of approximately 12”. Leaving a 4” step on the outside, dig out the centre of the hole as deep as possible (preferably at least 24”).
- Add a layer of fist-sized rocks to the bottom for drainage.
- Set your digester on the step and backfill the soil solidly around the digester, this will anchor the unit in place.
- If the contents are filling up too fast, you can sprinkle in some septic accelerator (available at hardware stores or Amazon) and add some warm water to speed up decomposition.
- Do not use composted dog waste in your garden as the plants could absorb pathogens if too close. The end product is not like compost from your normal compost system, it will not be safe to use it to spread on your gardens.
- Because pet waste can be quite dangerous to handle, if the digester becomes full, stop adding pet waste, cover the opening with soil and grass seed. Move to a new spot and start a new one.
- Do not add waste from cat litter to your digester unless you are using 100% biodegradable litter (newspaper or corn-based litter). Regular litter will stop digestion and is not safe to dump outside.
- If you have bags of pet waste (from a walk) empty them into your digester, do not add them. The bags will take a very long time to digest and will slow the process of the rest of the waste.
Is your pet digester usable in the winter?
During the colder temperatures of winter months, the pet digester will still be working but at a much slower rate. The microorganisms that break down pet-waste are less efficient in colder temperatures. Once spring resumes, the system will pick right back up cleanly disposing of the waste.
Your digester should last for many years in the same spot and is inconvenient to move so when choosing a spot, keep in mind that you will be using your digester through the winter.
Where Can I Get One?
Right here at Quine Waste Solutions! We have limited stock remaining and we sell them for $30 each.