Dog poop diversion programs a boon for workers not afraid to get hands dirty

Dog poop diversion programs a boon for workers not afraid to get hands dirty

It sounds completely disgusting, but if you ask Bill Droeske, he says there is no better way of getting dog poop out of a plastic bag than with a pair of scissors.

"I know, it's kind of ... it's gross," admitted the owner and operator of Scooby's Dog Waste Removal Service, which is contracted by Metro Vancouver and growing number of Lower Mainland municipalities to do exactly that.

"It's not a very glamorous job but it pays OK," said Droeske, adding that his company added the City of North Vancouver as a new client in January.

North Vancouver is the latest city to put special red bins in parks for people to dispose of their bagged dog waste as opposed to using traditional garbage bins.

The special bins keep the poop out of landfills — it's organic waste that ends up making methane gas — and better dealt with instead at local waste water plants.

"We're not supposed to be putting dog waste or any pet waste into the solid waste stream," said Michael Hunter, manager of parks and environment with the City of North Vancouver.  "So we're doing our part."

The municipality will spend up to $25,000 in 2017 to see how much dog poop it can divert.

A City of North Vancouver audit in 2016 showed, "a very high percentage of dog waste by volume," in waste streams.

Under Metro Vancouver regulations, pet waste is prohibited from the region's garbage, but small amounts are accepted in household garbage or public garbage cans.

Vancouver has had bins in three parks since June of 2016 and has, so far, diverted 5,922 kilograms of dog poop.

And that's where Droeske comes in; he's made a living getting the poop out of the individual bags, and taking it to a waste water treatment plant.

Business has been so good that he now employs five people, and two of them paid up to $30 per hour to work the scissors.

A table, scissors and buckets

"They dump all the bags of poop onto a table and they have a pair of scissors and they just cut, cut, cut, cut and then they empty the bags into buckets and then dump it into the tank," said Droeske.

Now Droeske says he's close to hiring a third person, as red bin programs are being considered by Port Coquitlam and the Township of Langley.

"It's just been steadily getting larger and larger," he said seemingly unfazed by the amount of dog poop he is moving around.

Metro Vancouver is now spending $120,000 a year on its red bin program, which is in 12 parks so far, with another five to be added this year.

In 2015, around 1,500 kilograms of dog poop was collected each month from bins in Pacific Spirit Park alone.

"Nobody likes a community with dog waste all over the place so the most important thing for people to do is pick it up," said Karen Storry a senior project engineer with Metro Vancouver solid waste services.

That seems like a pretty easy thing to do when there are people like Bill Droeske and his employees willing to take it from there.