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Dog poo biofuel to power Berlin buses

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Pooch poo's pungency puts Berliners on edge. Photo: DPA
12:59 CEST+02:00
The city of Berlin announced on Wednesday plans for a large-scale urban dog waste composting pilot programme to deal with the growing health hazard posed by lazy dog owners who refuse to clean up after their pets.

According to the Berlin Animal Protection Agency, the city is home to at least 107,000 pooches. The average dog produces some 274 pounds of waste each year – which means that city sidewalks and parks are burdened with almost 30 million pounds of canine crap annually.

“It's a menace and a health hazard,” Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development spokesperson Edeltraud Schauffel told The Local on Wednesday. “It's sad that people don't take more pride in their city, but we hope that the new programme will motivate people to make a difference in their urban environment.”

It is technically illegal not to bag Fido's faeces in German cities, but notoriously poor Berlin just hasn't had the resources to enforce fines – much less hire poop scoopers to maintain public areas, Schauffel said. But now the city has teamed funds from dog ownership taxes and the Transportation Department to come up with a unique strategy to clean city streets of both dog waste and smog – the composted pooch poo will be converted to biofuel to power new eco-friendly buses built by Daimler.

The programme, called “Poo Power Berlin,” will begin in three of Berlin's largest parks, the Tiergarten, Volkspark Friedrichshain and Treptower Park. City workers will place compost bins around the parks, complete with biodegradable balsa wood spades for picking up the Hundescheisse. The bins contain environmentally friendly chemicals that will break down the waste into a sludge that will be periodically transported to biofuel processing facilities in the city's Marzahn district.

“There is some concern that the biofuel will emit an unpleasant exhaust smell from the new buses,” Schauffel said. “No one has ever attempted such an ambitious biofuel project before, but we're confident we can make it work.”

If the project is successful after one year, the city plans to place the bins in a grid network across Berlin by 2012.

“Who knows? Maybe one day all of the city's movements will be powered by dog waste,” Schauffler said.

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As many readers no doubt have guessed, the above article is in honour of April Fool's Day and has very little basis in fact, barring the following exception:

Berlin really does have some 107,000 dogs who each produce 274 pounds of waste per year that ends up on sidewalks and in public areas - a nasty menace indeed.

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