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Taipei Zoo saves big by turning animal manure into 'brown gold'

Taipei Zoo saves big by turning animal manure into 'brown gold'

Animal manure used to spell trouble for Taipei Zoo officials, as it costs millions of Taiwan dollars each year to dispose of the waste, but with the improvement of technology, the manure is now being used to fertilize greens in the zoo and is considered nothing less than "brown gold."

The over 2,500 animals at the Taipei Zoo produce around 750 metric tons of manure each year, which roughly equals the weight of 250 elephants, the Taipei Zoo said Friday.

In the past, it cost around NT$2.4 million (US$73,574) each year to do away with the excrement, and it polluted the environment because burning the waste in incinerators creates carbon dioxide, according to the zoo.

Since 2001, the zoo has encouraged a "turn feces into gold" program, but it was not able to produce a stable supply of organic fertilizer out of its animal manure and plant compost because of a lack of proper equipment.

In recent years however, with improvement in techniques, upgrading of equipment and purchasing of wood chippers, the zoo has been able to turn manure and plant compost into organic fertilizer in around four months, according to the zoo.

The 300 metric tons of fertilizer produced each year is used to grow plants and trees. For example, it has been used to grow around 2,550 eucalyptus trees to feed the zoo's koalas -- saving close to NT$10 million in fertilizer and other costs.

The zoo is also cooperating with schools in Taipei to launch activities in March and September each year, to teach children about organic fertilizer. (By Huang Li-yun and Christie Chen)

Updated : 2021-09-21 11:31 GMT+08:00