23rd September 2014

Streetkleen: Helping make Britain a better place to live


By Gary Downie, MD of Streetkleen Bio

Streetkleen Bio was the winner of the ‘How do we improve the environmental performance of British business?’ GeoVation Challenge.

StreetKleen Logo

They say inspiration can strike in the most unusual places. For me my eureka moment came three years ago while trying to maneuver my son’s buggy around the piles of dog poo littering the streets near my home.

Everyone deserves to live in a nice environment and as studies have shown, dog fouling can really bring neighbourhoods down, deterring both investment and visitors.

Dog Poo BinI was incensed that some irresponsible dog owners refused to clear up after their pets but I was also struck by the waste. In nature nothing is wasted, but we humans have an annoying habit of just burying things in the ground instead of doing something useful with them. What a waste of natural assets!

Dog poo, just like sewage and farm manure is an excellent feedstock for anaerobic digestion – a biological process that produces bio gas for heating and creating electricity. It’s a technology that’s been around for decades, but as energy prices soar and the impact on our climate of burning fossil fuels becomes apparent, government and industry alike are looking to anaerobic digestion as an important part of the renewable energy strategy.

A plentiful resource

As a nation of animal lovers, our nine million dogs produce a staggering 1 million tonnes of poo every year! Much of that is deposited in public places and local authorities in England and Wales spend a whopping £32million annually just collecting and disposing of it – usually in landfill sites where it emits damaging greenhouse gasses as it degrades. But its not just local authorities who have to bear the burden. Owners of accessible land, rescue centres and kennels have to pay around £130 per tonne to landfill dog waste – making disposal a costly business.

image of some one collecting dog waste

Innovative solution

At Streetkleen Bio we not only want to see an end to discarded dog waste on our streets, in our parks and blighting our countryside, we also want to see this valuable resource put to good use. So we’ve developed localised, robust and scalable anaerobic digestion solutions capable of providing an alternative dog waste disposal method that not only reduces costs, but also recycles nutrients and creates valuable bio gas.

Geo-location services

Over half (56 per cent) of UK local authorities have identified dog waste collection and disposal as an area for cost and efficiency improvements. Thanks to our GeoVation award we’re in the process of developing geo-location based services that can help them do just that.

Our award has also helped us to engage with the dog loving public. Our new mobile app has been developed using the latest academic research into the barriers to behavioural change in dog walkers. Designed to use geo-location data to help walkers find the nearest waste bin, the app also educates and engages the public, providing an essential step towards building a strong sense of community cohesion around the issue and encouraging people to take pride in their local area.

It’s been an incredible year for Streetkleen Bio since winning the GeoVation Challenge. It’s really helped put us on the map and things are set to get even more exciting from here, but more about that next time!

We’re absolutely committed to helping people in Britain live in better places, and we wish all of this year’s challengers the very best of luck with their submissions.