Flintshire campaigner to turn dog poo into fuel


Hayley Collins

AN ENTERPRISING father-of-two has discovered a new energy source – dog waste.

Gary Downie, a former commercial banker who lives in Broughton, wants to convert dog waste collected from across the country into energy.

And the ambitious 41-year-old believes the energy could eventually be used to power people’s homes.

He said: “It is possible that down the line we could see homes powered by dog waste if it is mixed with other organic material.”

Last month Mr Downie vowed to clean up the streets after tiring of pushing his baby’s pram through pavements and parks covered in canine excrement.

He has used £10,000 of his own money to bankroll the launch of StreetKleen – a charity to remove dog dirt and provide education.

But now the idea has snowballed and Mr Downie, a former dog owner, has launched a new social enterprise – Active Bio Systems – which will take the dog waste and turn it into biogas using the process of anaerobic digestion.

He said: “People think this started out as a crazy ex-banker spending £10,000 of his own money to pick up dog dirt, but the reality is much different.

“The three aims of StreetKleen are removal, education and prevention, but now we have come up with an alternative solution of what to do with dog waste.

“We are going to create energy from dog waste using the process of anaerobic digestion.”

Mr Downie and his business partner, Christopher Dunn, from Ellesmere Port, who has a bio-chemistry degree from Manchester University, are now in talks with local authorities from across Wales with a view to collecting their dog waste.

The dog mess would be collected through a new-style receptacle complete with biodegragable waste bags – of which Mr Downie took delivery of the prototype on Friday.

About 1,000 tonnes of dog poo is sent to landfill every week and Mr Downie estimates there is about five tonnes every week in Flintshire alone.

He added: “We want to capture that waste stream that is currently sent to landfill and turn it into a useable energy.

“There isn’t enough dog waste in our area alone so we would have to collect from other authorities and combine it with other waste streams such as grass cuttings or any other organic matter.”

Mr Downie predicts he will need four tonnes of dog waste a day to make the company commercially viable, but he has high hopes for its success.

“This just makes sense, it’s a no-brainer,” he said.
“It a case of do you send it to landfill or do you turn it into energy?”

Mr Downie is now hoping to set up a small anaerobic digester in Wepre Park, Connah’s Quay to show people how it works.

The plans are at an early stage, but Mr Downie is in talks with anaerobic digestion engineering company Marches Biogas about the proposal.

The technology has already been used at a park in the US state of Massachusetts, where collected dog waste is used to power a lighting column in the park.

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