Litter to Energy Project Update
Reducing our Environmental Pawprint.
We knew there had to be a better solution than putting all our cat litter waste in landfill. With the help of a Hobart City Council grant and their support, and along with UTAS providing Associate Professor Xiaolin Wang and Honours Student Xurui Fan to help us consider options, we have found a better way!
ARTICLE BY: Freya Langford-Sidebottom, Ten Lives.
Ten Lives purchases over 100 tonnes (100,000 kilos) of cat litter annually, approximately half of which is kept at the shelter and used for the cats within our care. Of that 50 tonnes, using our old model of litter disposal, 100% was ending up in landfill.
The litter that we use itself is a highly environmentally-friendly manufactured product, made with zero chemicals, and using scrap pine which was otherwise also destined for landfill. It’s turned into sawdust and then compacted into pellets.
When this wood pellet litter is combined with a sieve dual-tray litter system (which involves being able to shake out dirty litter that has been broken down) we use half the amount of litter that would otherwise be used in a standard litter system. For a consumer this means that 1 large bag of litter is needing to be replaced only every 3-4 months, as opposed to every 1-2 weeks using the traditional system.
Even though using this litter and tray system we can reduce the overall amount of litter used, our dirty litter has still been contributing to 10,000 plastic bags of waste going in to landfill. We are thrilled to recently have been able to cut that number down to zero plastic bags going into landfill by using the new FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) bins rolled out by the Hobart City Council. The composting system they have implemented is hot enough to kill any bugs and nasties in the cat waste (unlike traditional home composting), and turns it into nutrient-rich soil later used in agriculture and horticulture.
Using waste for heating
In addition to reducing our litter into landfill numbers to zero, we are also using clean and what we call clean-used litter (where the cat waste has been shaken and/or scooped out and the remaining litter is still fairly clean). This remaining litter helps to heat the Centre in conjunction with environmentally friendly, low-emmission and carbon neutral wood pellet heaters that are powered by the litter.
Ten Lives has one of these heaters installed in one of our communal staff and cat areas. We are pleased to estimate a cost-effective savings of $1,600 annually compared to using the reverse-cycle air con heating in this room.
We will be installing more of these pellet heaters around the Centre in areas with recovering cats that need constant heating to stay comfortable at all times.
Ten Lives is proud as an organisation to not only be saving on running costs for the Centre, but also be contributing to a healthier environment and planet.