What should I do with pet waste? Does it go with organic waste? Trash? Leave it?
The Sacramento Bee’s service journalism desk has gotten a similar questions numerous times — mainly after California’s organic waste mandate took effect earlier this year.
And with Sacramento quickly approaching the start of its residential organic waste program, we thought it was about time we answered.
Short answer: pet waste shouldn’t be recycled.
“Pet waste and cat litter will still be disposed of in the garbage when organic recycling begins,” said Jesa David, a spokeswoman for Sacramento’s Recycling and Solid Waste Division, in an email to The Bee.
When not disposed properly, decomposed pet waste adds harmful bacteria and nutrients to waters. The matter causes an excessive growth of algae and weeds and murky, green and smelly waters unsuitable for both wildlife and humans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The the best waste removal method for hikes and trails is to bag it and carry it out. Yes, this means carry an unpleasant bag along the trail. To counteract any unpleasant smells, double bag the waste until you reach a trash bin.
Or avoid carrying the poo and give your pet time to do its business before you start your journey.
And while it’s a good habit to pick up after your pet on walks, it’s also important to pick up after them at home because some diseases can be transmitted into the soil, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Another pet waste method: flush it down the toilet.
The water in your toilet goes into a sewage treatment plant that removes most pollutants before the water reaches a river or stream, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. To prevent a clogged toilet, don’t flush debris or cat litter — just the waste.
What does go into the organic waste bins?
City residents living in apartment buildings of five units or more should’ve been recycling their organic food and green waste since the beginning of the year, according to the City of Sacramento. The start date for residents living in single-family homes and duplexes up to fourplexes is July 1.
The county’s organics program is similar to the city’s, expect for a few details.
Starting July, residents living in the unincorporated part of Sacramento County who receive curbside green waste service will be required to toss their organic food and green waste material into their green waste cart (soon to be organics cart) for weekly pick up, according to the county’s waste management and recycling page.
Before tossing any organic food waste material into the bin, remove stickers, twist ties and rubber bands from the produce.
Here’s what should be recycled as organic food and green waste material, according to the county website:
- Meat (including bones)
- Coffee grounds
- Paper coffee filters
- Tea bags
- Food soiled paper: paper towels and napkins, paper plates, greasy pizza boxes, paper lunch bags
- Food scraps: moldy food, leftovers, rotting food
- Green waste: branches, grass, leaves, tree trimmings, prunings
Here’s what shouldn’t go into the bin, according to the website:
- Plastic bags
- Takeout containers
- Pet waste
- Water hoses
A good rule of thumb: don’t toss any material into the bin that doesn’t grow from the earth.