If you’ve been shopping for dog poop bags or waste bags, you’ve probably seen flushable dog poop bag options.
But, you’re probably wondering, is it safe to be flushing dog poop at home? Even if the bags flush ok and don’t clog your toilet, what happens to them afterwards?
What about for people with as septic tank….can you put dog poop in a septic tank?
We look to provide more information on all the above in this short educational guide.
If you are looking to get flushable dog poop bags, it’s definitely worth researching the bag, and confirming yourself with the company that they are suitable for your situation, speaking to your council about safety and environmental laws and regulations in your area, and consulting a plumber or health professional if necessary (much cheaper than paying for someone to fix a clogged toilet or pipes!!)
Let’s jump into it!
Flushing Dog Poop & Flushable Dog Poop Bags: Good, or Bad?
What Are Flushable Dog Poop Bags?
Flushable dog poop bags are quite new to the dog poop bag and dog waste bag market.
Other dog poop bags that are plastic, or biodegradable, degradable or compostable, are usually disposed of and dumped in landfill.
Flushable dog poop bags on the other hand are flushed down the toilet.
To be flushable, the bags must be able to dissolve in the water so they don’t clog your toilet or the pipes.
But, how do they work in reality? Is it just clogging your toilet you have to worry about?
What Are The Benefits Of Flushing Dog Poop?
Let’s start with the benefits of flushing dog poop.
The main benefits to flushing dog poop are that they prevent some of the issues and limitations of the alternatives to flushing such as:
- Eliminating the need to dispose bags to landfill sites
- Eliminating the problems that plastic bags present
- Eliminate the problems that biodegradable bags face
- Eliminate the problems associated with composting residentially and industrially
- Dumping dog poop in the trash where it gets sent to land fill sites that accept pet waste
- Composting dog poop – either at home (residentially), or at industrial composting sites
The major issues with using land fill sites are that:
a) not all land fill sites accept pet waste
b) biodegradable material needs air to break down properly and landfill layers prevent air from getting to the bags (which actually produces methane gas which is a bad thing!),
c) plastic bags take around an estimated 500-1000 years to break down in the environment
d) plastic bags not only get stuck inside animals, but when they break down they emit harmful chemicals
The major issues with composting dog poop are:
a) it can be both difficult (achieving the temperature needed to compost dog poop properly) and unsafe (with the bacteria, pathogens and diseases found in poop) to compost at home, and
b) basically no industrial composting sites accept pet waste as the process of treating the poop is too difficult and composting without contaminating other compost matter is too risky
On top of this, plastic dog poop bags are hard to recycle because they are soft (recycling machines only accept hard plastic) and they are dirty (it’s too costly and difficult to clean dog poop from the plastic).
What Are The Concerns Of Flushing Dog Poop – Are They Safe and Environmentally Friendly, or Harmful?
So, eliminating all those problems makes flushable dog poop bags perfect right? Not so fast…
Using flushable dog poop bags introduces a new set of issues to worry about such as:
a) the bags themselves can be weak when picking up wet poop or picking up poop in wet conditions
b) dog poop contains nasty bacteria and pathogens – bringing poop inside your house and bathroom poses a health risk for those living inside the house if contamination occurs
c) the way most flushable bags are tested doesn’t always confirm that the bag fully dissolves in the sewerage system (meaning it has to be removed as rubbish or it clogs up the system later down the line)
d) sewer overflow caused by man made or natural factors such as floods or infrastructure failures, can cause the dog poop to get into waterways, marine water with marine life, and even our drinking water
e) it can be costly to fix and clean sewer systems effected by poop bags
Some of the above concerns are evidenced in come countries like Australia where it’s costing some councils millions to clean the after effects of some brands of flushable poop bags.
It should be noted though that the performance in terms of degradability and breaking down might differ from one bag brand and product to another.
Can You Put Dog Poop and Dog Poop Bags In A Septic Tank?
It is generally not a smart thing to do as it can smell really bad, human poop contains things like hair and ash which human poop doesn’t, and other things about dog and pet poop can interfere with the design and processing of the septic tank.
There are specially designed in ground pet waste sewer line attachments you can buy and install – but they can give varying results.
The reliability and design of the individual pet waste systems can vary, and a poorly designed one can be troublesome unless you know exactly what you are doing or looking for.
An example of a Dog/Pet Sewer Drain is the Doggie Doo Drain Dog Waste Sewer Line Attachment (on Amazon).
Can Dog Poop Clog A Toilet?
Generally it doesn’t, but it depends on several factors like your toilet, how much poop you’re flushing, the dog poop bag etc.
When using a standard flushable dog poop bag, there’s generally more clogging problems down the line than at the point of flushing.
- Screening and trapping large debris which are removed
- Treatment for separation of solids and wastewater
- Secondary biological treatment of water to treat small solids
- Final disinfecting and removal of harmful bacteria
- Discharge to water reserves like lakes and oceans
- Solids processing including burning methane for electricity and heat, and using organic solids for fertisliser and sending the rest to landfill
What Are Some Of The Available Flushable Dog Poop Bags?
One of the more popular flushable dog poop bags available at the moment are the Flush Puppies Doodie Bags (on Amazon).
They meet the ASTM d6400 standard and California law for “compostability”, and are certified compostable by the biodegradable products institute (BPI) (for industrial compost facilities only).
What Are The Alternatives To Flushable Dog Poop Bags?
The dog poop bags you might use an alternative to flushable bags might include:
- Biodegradable dog poop bags
- Degradable dog poop bags
- Compostable dog poop bags
- Plastic dog poop bags
You might also consider options like pooper scoopers and other scoops in your front and back yard to pick up dog poop.
Should You Consider Flushable Dog Poop Bags?
Ruling out the use of flushable dog poop bags altogether might not be the smart thing to do.
After all, they do help us get around the landfill and plastic bag issues.
However, in order for flushable bags to be something safe and smart to use going into the future, there has to be improvements in:
- The bag being able to dissolve to an extent (more product development needs to happen)
- The sewerage system being reliable enough not to spill harmful dog poop pathogens into the external environment (treatment of the poop needs to stay consistent)
Of course, the above is just our own research and opinions – make your mind up for yourself with the facts and professional opinions if required if flushable bags are right for you.
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