Flintshire campaigner to turn dog poo into fuel

Published date: 19 March 2012 |
Published by: Hayley Collins
Read more articles by 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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  1. Posted by: mr katt at 09:16 on 19 March 2012 Report

    Four tons a day? I'm sure there is enough to go around and more Why not try MOLD, on the old railroad path by lidi was not a eye sore till that estate was put up. if you walk it now wear boots

  2. Posted by: Cassie at 10:02 on 19 March 2012 Report

    So come on dog owners,make sure your dogs poo all over the street,so this man can provide power to the world.I thought his good deed was about education,get a life,we live in the real world,why compare to America.

  3. Posted by: daisymay at 10:44 on 19 March 2012 Report

    I admire this man who got up off his bottom to try to solve a problem. If his idea works then good on him. There are not enough poo bins around at the moment. I feel sure that he will do his homework properly as he has put his OWN money where his mouth is. People can sneer all they want but this is a problem area that needs a solution.

  4. Posted by: liberty1 at 11:47 on 19 March 2012 Report

    Best of luck Mr Downie, as dm has said people can sneer all they like but at least you have got off your backside to have a go. Nave you thought of trying to convert hot air? If you manage it there are a couple of regulars on here who would be able to keep a small village self sufficient. Cue people who have had a sense of humour by-pass.

  5. Posted by: kevinweston at 19:48 on 20 March 2012 Report

    8 million dogs in UK. Why not harness the 70 million humans?

  6. Posted by: NorrieManson at 02:27 on 21 March 2012 Report

    Good for you Mr Downie.Theres alot of con-men out there but you seem the real deal. Heres a man who in these harsh economic times literally gets on his hands and knees to earn a living. If theres anyway I can personally contribute let me know.

  7. Posted by: mikecolbert at 02:58 on 21 March 2012 Report

    Thank you Mr. Downie for restoring my faith in humanity. I came home today to find someone had stolen my cod that I caught on my weekend fishing trip. When I read this article, about this great man cleaning my streets of dog poo with virtually his bare hands, his community spirit made me forget about the fish thief. As the late great Frank Carson would say, " youre a cracker!"

  8. Posted by: edyjo at 21:46 on 21 March 2012 Report

    go on you mr downie!


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