While we love our pet dog, we unintentionally contribute significantly to the plastic pollution with 415B dog poop bags, that’s 1.23M tons of plastics. My simple patent-pending scooper uses biodegradable cartridges to help avoid pollution.
Type: Commercial, Social Impact
According to an article in the Jan 2022 issue of the Environmental Pollution journal, two of the most popular dog poop bags are made of polyethylene, one of the most prevailing plastic wastes. Today 415 billion dog poop bags are consumed and disposed of annually, that's about 1.23 million tons of plastics.
FTC has also warned that many poop bags that claim to be earth-friendly or biodegradable don’t actually break down within a year, and some never degrade at all. When traditional plastic bags degrade, they leave behind microplastics contaminating the environment. Moreover, while plant-based bags are compostable, few commercial composting facilities in the US accept pet waste and most of the bags end up in landfills.
Also, while dog waste needs to be picked up for aesthetic as well as public health reasons, some people don't pick up their dog poop because it feels weird, smells weird or it just looks gross.
What’s needed is an elegant, easy-to-use, biofriendly pooper scooper.
The scooper has a casing with two halves. One half holds a cartridge base and the other holds a cartridge lid. The casing has an attachment for dog leash, which can be retractable. The dog owner carries the scooper when taking a dog on a walk. When dog poop needs to be picked up, the owner presses down the cartridge base on the poop. The parallel sticks help collect and hold the poop. The owner then joins the poop-filled cartridge base to the cartridge lid and pushes a finger through an aperture in the casing to lock the lid on the base to avoid poop-smearing. The cartridge can then be discarded by opening the casing and a fresh cartridge placed in the casing for the next walk.
The casings are made from bioplastics (e.g. PLA, TPS) and the cartridges are made from cardboard and wooden sticks which are naturally biodegradable. The design purposely avoids the use of electronic parts.
The scooper is lightweight, easy to use, and comes in sizes to accommodate small, medium and large dogs.
Getting an Original Prusa i3 MK3 within budget meant I could order only the printer parts. Upon receiving the package, my heart dropped to find so many pieces I was to assemble… But I collected my courage and smiled to myself since I was driven to bring my imagination to life! After online chat sessions with support and help from amazing members in the forums for assembly of small intricate parts and calibration among other aspects, it was great to have the printer ready.
The next step was to learn Autodesk Fusion 360. It was neat to 3D model the parts from my mind’s eye!
Then came the actual work. It was great to learn very many 3D printing techniques such as support structures, avoid common issues, etc.
Also, I ordered a Cricut cutting machine for making cartridges and learned to use the same.
In particular, distributing prototypes to many dog lovers, collecting feedback, making 3 different versions, pivoting design, and iterating through each version was tremendous learning!
The plastic waste we contribute doesn’t degrade but instead breaks down into ever smaller pieces. Every week we consume about a credit card’s worth of plastic through water and food we consume; that’s 40+ pounds over our lifetimes… Plastic pollution harms our environment as well as our health. The scooper uses naturally biodegradable disposable cartridges for dog poop pickup to help reduce our plastic contribution.
Also, people find the feel of dog poop through plastic bags when picking up disgusting, and carrying the poop-filled bag awkward until the bag can be disposed of. So some owners even skip picking up their dog poop. The scooper solves these issues by having a lightweight and compact casing along with simple-to-use functionality.
Also, affordability is key- I intend to make available for purchase casings at $8 and cartridges at 7¢ each.
My scooper will help us towards having Clean Neighborhoods since it’s convenient and Green Neighborhoods since it’s eco-friendly.