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'Poop Bag Girl' Hopes to Disrupt Dog Waste Industry, Enlighten Chicagoans

By Kyla Gardner | August 27, 2015 7:44am | Updated on August 28, 2015 10:35am

CHICAGO — They call her the "Poop Bag Girl."

The title makes her easier to remember, Jennifer Blaese said, as she hawks her patent-pending biodegradable poop bags around the nation.

The CEO of Chicago startup Loft 312 is trying to disrupt the dog waste industry with her "GreenLine" bags and educate dog owners about plastic waste along the way.

"After developing the bag, it was [our] mission to change the way people thought about plastic bags," Blaese said.

Jennifer Blaese with her dog Kane [Jennifer Blaese]

A new city ordinance that went in to effect Aug. 1 may help her with that mission. The partial ban on lightweight plastic bags at big-box stores had some dog owners wondering how they'd scoop poop.

Blaese was happy a conversation about landfill waste was happening in the city.

"With the bag ban, we really saw an opportunity for us to get the word out to Chicagoans," Blaese said.

The Midwest has been a much more challenging market for her bags than the West Coast and Pacific Northwest, she said. More than 50 cities in California have some type of ban on plastic bags, and a state-wide ban may be voted on in 2016.

"Chicago has always been a challenge for us. The Midwest in general," she said.

Loft 312's products can be found in many stores out West, and in about nine stores in Chicago.

Blaese, who lives in Lakeview with her dogs Kane and Mable, said she started the company in 2012 when she wanted a poop bag dispenser with a sleeker design.

She came up with the Loop dispenser, which connects to a dog leash at two points.

A dog models the Loop poop bag dispenser. [Facebook/Loop 312]

Then she learned that the pet waste bags she was using weren't as green as she thought.

"As a consumer, I was very frustrated," she said. "I was green-washed [into thinking] that I was being environmentally-friendly. It was a huge wake-up call."

A lot of biodegradable bags require sunlight and oxygen to break them down, Blaese said, something landfills don't provide.

"Biodegradable: That’s a very blanket word," she said.

So Blaese came up with her own product, and the GreenLine bags contain an additive that allows them to biodegrade completely in fewer than three years — even in a landfill, she said.

A box of eight rolls of GreenLine bags goes for $9.60 on the Loft 312 site, a steeper price than some competitors, she said.

"We’re not the cheapest, but we’re competitive," she said. "We haven't priced ourselves out of the market."

Though she can have trouble keeping up with demand, Blaese is proud her small company has survived as a woman- and minority-owned business, and in a city that caters to tech startups, but not necessarily her product startup, she said.

"We're a small company that’s done something completely different," she said.

Jennifer Blaese's company makes a large poop bag that is comparable in size to the banned, thin "T-shirt" bags from grocery stores, she said. [Facebook/Loft 312]

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