SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

June 14, 2013

Dog-poo into Energy

We occupy a special time in history.  We aren’t at just some mysterious point in space  – –  we are in a changing world with of needs, a changing set of rules.  Climate and weather patterns are changing.  Our very populations are exploding – – imagine the extra burden the earth could be feeling. . .  .  and here in USA, we wonder where all the jobs went?       

So,  many have had to put on those thinking caps and/or come up with new ways to do old things.  My own interests always go out to new ideas;  creative ways of doing the things which need doing anyway. When I come across one here or there – I sometimes ask myself – “could I do that?”  or   “does this have potential?”   If I get a positive indication,  I think it might be worthy enough to share.  Maybe somebody else will or can see the potential here too – – or perhaps, put a different  twist onto it.  So, today, this one is all about what one lady thought she might want to try, and it seems to be working and useful:

Mining for gold in doggie waste

                                                                                                                                                                          TOM DODGE DISPATCH PHOTOS  Jendell Duffner, left, and David LeValley haul away the leavings from one customer’s yard that are headed for recycling. 

Green Scoop Pet Waste has the doggie droppings converted into compost or natural gas.


Here’s the scoop: Jendell Duffner wants to turn the pet poop that’s littering your backyard into something useful.

Duffner’s new business, Green Scoop Pet Waste Recycling, picks up dog and cat waste and then transports it      to a compost or energy facility where it can be transformed into natural gas.

Duffner, who lives on the West Side, came up with the idea about a year ago when she was finishing classes at the Economic Community Development Institute, a city-funded program dedicated to helping people start their own businesses and improve themselves financially.

Once she completed the classes, Duffner received a $1,200 grant toward starting her business. She had concerns about starting a pet-waste operation because it would be competing against much bigger companies, such as Pet Butler, which has a national presence and serves 1,000 customers in central Ohio.

“I knew I couldn’t compete with them,” she said.

  • A spin on the idea was suggested by Jacqueline Orlov, an asset-development coach at the institute. Instead of   taking the pet waste to the dump, she could turn it into something beneficial.
  • “I’ve always been a very environmentally friendly person, even when I was a little girl,” Duffner said.

By contrast, Pet Butler places all of its collected waste in an EPA approved landfill, a process that also has environmental benefits, said Pete Hulse, owner of the Pet Butler franchise serving central Ohio. “Simply getting the pet waste picked up and disposing of it safely keeps it from washing into local waterways,” he said. “That’s important to us, and we’re proud of the role we play in preserving a cleaner, safer environment.”

  • But Duffner’s company composts its waste. Barry Chapman, whose expertise at the Ohio EPA includes solid and infectious waste, thinks Duffner’s is the first business to handle pet waste that way.

“When I got the thumbs up from the EPA, that’s when everything really started to take off,” Duffner said.

But then she ran into another problem: the cost. The composting equipment she would need would run her a bill upward of $100,000.

“I’m a single mother with two kids, and I’ve had a boyfriend for nine years, so I didn’t have a way of coming up with that kind of money,” she said.

She eventually established a working relationship with two facilities that would accept the waste and meet the EPA’s standards: Compost Farm in Alexandria and Cleveland-based Quasar Energy Group, which has a location in Columbus that accepts waste.

  • David Lees, the owner of Compost Farm, said Duffner has started an important business, promoting something that should be done more often.

“People need to compost everything they can,” he said.

Compost Farm turns something that could potentially sit in a landfill for centuries into something useful in about six months. People drop off waste, and then the organic material is broken down by microorganisms. Duffner sells some of the finished product through her company.

The process at Quasar works a bit differently, as it transforms a solid into a gas.

A waste-to-gas machine — technically called a methane digester — isn’t something new. A few European countries and other nations in the world have been converting animal waste into energy for several years.

According to Claire Cottrill, marketing manager at Quasar Energy Group, organic waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen, and the bacteria break down the material stored in air-tight tanks, producing a gas that’s 60 percent methane.

By the end of the process, the methane can be piped directly into houses to stoves or heaters. The entire process takes between 25 to 28 days.

The waste-removal service provided by Green Scoop can range from a twice-a-month pickup costing $15 to a few hundred dollars for multiple cleanups over six months.   Since Duffner has only about 20 customers, she’s taking a financial hit because of expenses associated with the business.

She’s not on her own, though. The Economic Community Development Institute representatives check in with their graduates to see how their startup companies are doing, said Doug Craven, the groups’s marketing and communication manager. “We don’t just give them the grant and shut the door on them,” he said.

Duffner, who also handles office duties during the day at Neurological Associates, does most of the grunt work herself right now.   She cleans up the yard or picks up the bucket she provides to customers, then has a route driver who transports the waste.

Duffner, owner of Green Scoop, has yet to turn a profit from her startup.

Duffner doesn’t make any money off the compost or the natural gas. She’s just the first step in the process.

“It’s not just about the money, but about me running a dream business,” Duffner said.


1 Comment »

  1. Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and
    I am waiting for your further post thank you once again.

    Comment by website — June 23, 2013 @ 10:30 am | Reply

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