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The 11 Best Compostable and Biodegradable Trash Bags: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide (2021)

Ahmed Sohaib

March 8, 2021
Featured image for biodegradable bags article

Editor's Choice

White background with Plasticplace 40-45 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

PlasticPlace 40-45 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

2nd Best Choice

White background with Plasticplace 12-16 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

PlasticPlace 12-16 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

3rd Best Choice

BioBag Compostable 3 Gallon Food Waste Bags box

BioBag Compostable 3 Gallon Food Waste Bags

Plastic bags kill at least 100,000 marine animals every year. 80% of this oceanic plastic comes from land.

In other words, the plastic trash holders you use may be killing a leatherback turtle halfway around the world.

However, while the situation seems hopeless, you can make a difference by using biodegradable plastic bags since they can go a long way in reducing plastic contamination.

To ensure you contribute to a greener future, I’ve reviewed the 11 best biodegradable trash bags. Let’s jump in.

Our Top 11 Best Compostable and Biodegradable Trash Bags

1. PlasticPlace 40-45 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

These PlasticPlace Compostable Trash Bags meet the ASTM D6400 certifications which means they are fully compostable in an industrial composting facility.

And the 40-45 gallon capacity makes sure you can pack heavy loads in one bag.

Furthermore, the translucent nature helps you to see what’s inside the bag. There have been times when I wished the ones I used were translucent. The PlasticPlace product fulfilled that wish pretty nicely.

Overall, the PlasticPlace 40-45 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags are one of the best biodegradable and compostable options on the market. 

White background with Plasticplace 40-45 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

PROS

  • Meets ASTM D6400 specifications
  • Translucent
  • Leak-proof
  • Can take heavy loads

CONS

  • Not very thick

2. PlasticPlace 12-16 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

For single-use, the PlasticPlace 12-16 Gallon Trash Bags make a lot of sense.

They are clear, so you can see what’s inside. And no matter how many times I’ve put wet things such as food waste inside, they have never leaked. So, they are essentially leak-proof.

And when it comes to composting, the trash bags meet the ASTM D6400 specification. However, this means they are only compostable inside an industrial facility. No luck for backyard composting here.

White background with Plasticplace 12-16 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

PROS

  • Leak-proof
  • Clear color
  • No scent

CONS

  • Not as thick as some other bags

3. BioBag Compostable 3 Gallon Food Waste Bags

If you are looking to store a small amount of composting waste, then these 3-gallon food bags from BioBag are a solid option.

They are BPI-certified to meet the ASTM D6400 specification. This means they are well suited for home composting.

Additionally, according to the manufacturer, BioBag’s offerings are breathable, which means they don’t produce any odor during the composting process. But people have noted that this breathability doesn’t work too well.

The biodegradable plastic bag is also thinner, adding to the concern of some users. 

BioBag Compostable 3 Gallon Food Waste Bags box

PROS

  • Designed for home composting
  • Leak-proof

CONS

  • Weaker than other bags
  • Produces odor

4. Bag-To Nature Compostable Tall Kitchen Bags

The Bag-To Nature Compostable Kitchen Bags accelerate the process of composting. Their 13-gallon bag also makes it easy to store large amounts of waste.

And believe me when I say they made it easy because I have been trying to find a way to store kitchen trash that doesn’t suck.

Additionally, these Tall Compostable Bags are durable which means there are no tears. But of course, the bags will tear if you put more than 13-gallons of trash inside.

But because they have a short expiration date, you cannot buy them in bulk. This has caused some of my friends to look elsewhere. They are also not that strong which further aggravates the issue. 

BAG-TO NATURE Compostable Tall Kitchen Bags box

PROS

  • BPI-certified, meets ASTM D6400 specification
  • Leak-proof

CONS

  • The size is not large enough to use the bag as a bin liner
  • Expires after 9 months
  • For wet trash, you need to double up

5. UNNI 100% Compostable Trash Bags

These UNNI bags are eco-friendly alternatives to single-use normal shopping bags. They are Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and OK Compost Home certified.

In other words, they will start composting in a home environment.

Moreover, they are thick enough to hold 3 gallons of trash without tearing. That said, 3 gallons is rather low and people have complained about this.

Furthermore, they are also pretty thin, so you will have to double them up.

UNNI 100 Percent Compostable Trash Bags box

PROS

  • BPI and OK Compost Home certified
  • Leak-proof

CONS

  • The size runs small compared to a regular kitchen trash bag

  • You need to double up to keep them from leaking

  • With wet food scraps, the bags start composting within 3 days

6. ProGreen 100% Compostable Bags

As the name suggests, these ProGreen Compostable Bags are fully compostable in a home or industrial facility thanks to its BPI and OL Home Compost certification.

For their size, they are relatively thick at 0.71mm. But you will need to double them up if you plan on using them for wet food scraps.

Furthermore, they are small and will end up leaking after a few days. So for me, they are average at best.

ProGreen 100 Percent Compostable Bags box

PROS

  • Produces organic waste

  • Fully compostable, biodegradable

CONS

  • Will leak if not replaced every day
  • Durability is a concern
  • Runs small

Compostable materials are made from bioplastics originating from plant starch. Microorganisms can break down compostable kitchen bags made from corn starch without any toxic plastic byproducts.

7. STOUT by Envision EcoSafe-6400 Compostable Bags

The Stout by Envision Compostable bags strike a nice balance between convenience and size. They hold 30 gallons of trash and, at 1.1mm, are strong enough to resist tears and leaks.

They also meet the ASTM D6400 specification, so they are compostable and biodegradable in a compost facility. But sadly, they are no good for backyard composting.

People who’ve bought them are also upset that there is no easy way to tie them up. So, they are quite basic for the price. 

STOUT by Envision EcoSafe-6400 Compostable Bag box

PROS

  • Leak-proof
  • Can hold 30 gallons of yard waste without tearing

CONS

  • Not for home composting
  • Pretty basic for the price
  • Drawstrings would have been appreciated

8. Green Earth Compostable Biodegradable Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

Finally, a tall, 13-gallon trash bag with 1mm of thickness. So they can hold plenty of items before filling up.

And aside from being BPI certified, these biodegradable trash bags are made from GMO-free plants. Long story short, these 13-gallon Green Earth plastic trash bags are 100% compostable in a home or industrial facility.

Unfortunately, they are a pain to deal with because they’re only just tall enough for a standard kitchen trash bin.

Green Earth Compostable Biodegradable Tall Kitchen Trash Bags box

PROS

  • 100% compostable in a domestic setting
  • Durable

CONS

  • Drawstrings or rubber bands are sorely missed
  • Not that tall
  • Without any ties, this kitchen trash bag is hard to keep in place

9. Eco-Smartbags Biodegradable Trash Bags

These Eco-Smartbags Biodegradable Trash Bags are not biodegradable and compostable in the truest sense. And although they will decompose over time, they are not certified, so we won’t really know when they will actually decompose.

That said, these 13-gallon bags are ok if you use a lot of normal toxic, bin liners. Although you might be better off looking somewhere else because they are too short and they tear easily.

All things considered, there are better options on the market.

Eco-Smartbags Biodegradable Trash Bags box

PROS

  • 13-gallon trash capacity

CONS

  • Not certified
  • Too short for a regular-sized trash can
  • Tears easily
  • Produces odor

10. Second Nature Bags, Premium Certified 100% Compostable

The Second Nature Bags aim to offer everything quality eco-friendly bags should… but unfortunately they are mediocre at best.

Although they are fully compostable, they tear easily. People also complain about the lack of ties or rubber bands.

I wouldn't really recommend these to anyone, to be totally honest.

Second Nature Bags, Premium Certified 100 Percent Compostable box

PROS

  • BPI certified

CONS

  • They leak rather easily
  • No ties
  • Doubling up these bags is a must
  • No rubber bands to keep them in place

11. Primode 100% Compostable Bags

As the name suggests, these Primode 100% Compostable Bags are fully certified for home and industrial composting. And that’s pretty much all there is to say about their good qualities.

The bags are slippery to hold in place, they leak after a few days, and there are no ties to close the mouth.

If you have the luxury of choosing something better, do so. Don't waste your time on these ones.

Primode 100% Compostable Bags box

PROS

  • Fully biodegradable and compostable

CONS

  • No ties
  • Slippery, so it’s difficult to hold them in place
  • Doubling up is a necessity
  • Will leak after a few days

What is the Difference Between Compostable and Biodegradable Trash Bags?

Compostable

Compostable materials are made from bioplastics originating from plant starch. Microorganisms can break down compostable kitchen bags made from corn starch without any toxic plastic byproducts.

In other words, you don’t need to worry about these bags breaking down and producing toxic byproducts like heavy metals.

Unlike a biodegradable one, every compostable trash bag is regulated by the government.

The compostables need to break down within 180 days in the soil under compostable conditions. Compostable conditions mean they’re in an industrial compost facility with a high-temperature.

Now the term “compost conditions” presents a problem for domestic users like you. When you throw compostable trash bags into a compost pile, they will be visible even after 180 days. So, before purchasing bags that are compostable, you need to make sure they are marked as for “Home Use.”

Biodegradable

Biodegradable bags are petroleum-based products infused with heavy metals. Because they are petroleum-based, they resemble ordinary kitchen trash bags.

Microorganisms living in landfills can detect that the bags are infused with heavy metals. Mistaking them for food, those microorganisms will break them down into lower forms of plastic.

Another difference between compostable and biodegradable is that the latter is not regulated by the government.

So, when it comes to biodegradable trash bags, you need to be a little cautious as manufacturers can claim whatever they want.

People need to be aware that putting [a biodegradable plastic] in the recycling or trying to compost it, or putting in the general waste bin won't necessarily get them the results that they're being advertised.


Imogen Napper University of Plymouth Professor

The key problem with biodegradable trash bags are the conditions in which they break down. Such bags need ample moisture, air, and light. While all of these conditions can be found in your home, in landfills, they’re hard to fulfill.

In other words, in a landfill, biodegradables degrade like normal ones.

How to Choose a Compostable and Biodegradable Trash Bag

Size

Biodegradable trash bags come in a range of sizes.

For instance, you can buy a trash bag that can hold anywhere from 2 gallons to more than 33 gallons. Most bags, however, come in a 13-gallon size.

But if you want more capacity than a 13-gallon one, you can also find it pretty easily. 

Durability

Many people think biodegradable and compostable bags aren’t as tough as regular plastic bags. This is not true.

If chosen right, biodegradables and compostables can be just as durable.

Look for trash bags that have 1mm thickness. Qualities like thickness, leak-proof nature, and tear-resistance are desirable in a bag. 

Biodegradability

Biodegradability, or the rate at which bags break down, is often confusing.

Simply put, these bags often take longer to decompose than compostable ones. The conditions for a biodegradable bag to break down are almost impossible to come by in a landfill. So, your backyard compost pile won’t work.

This means that these bags can take anywhere from months to decades to decompose.

The key problem with biodegradable trash bags are the conditions in which they break down. Such bags need ample moisture, air, and light. While all of these conditions can be found in your home, in landfills, they’re hard to fulfill.

On the other hand, compostable trash bags are regulated and follow decomposition standards. Their ability to decompose under normal conditions makes them compostable.

So when choosing a compostable trash bag, look for one that is BPI and ASTM D6400 certified. 

Convenience

Unlike popular assumptions, you don’t need to sacrifice convenience when choosing nature-friendly kitchen trash bags.

There are plenty of options on the market that come with drawstrings and handles. However, these options are not the norm, and so you will sometimes find it hard to look for them.

Cost

Biodegradable bags cost more than ordinary ones. The increase in cost can be attributed to their expensive manufacturing process.

That said, as more and more people adopt biodegradable or compostable trash bags, the price will hopefully go down eventually.

Another thing that you need to remember is that you need to replace compostable ones more often. Coupled with the extra you have to pay for each bag, the expense can quickly add up.

Finally, many sellers also offer free shipping. Free shipping is a good way to save cash. So, keep this in mind before shopping for bags.

FAQ

Do biodegradable trash bags work?

Yes, biodegradable trash bags work if you dispose of them under suitable conditions. These bags require air, moisture, and light to decompose. If they are placed in a landfill, they may take as much time to decompose as regular bags.

How long do biodegradable bags take to decompose?

Biodegradable bags take 3 to 6 months to decompose. The duration of decomposition can change depending upon factors like the production process, moisture in the air, and temperature. That said, some biodegradable plastics can take much longer if the conditions aren’t right.

What can I use instead of trash bags?

You can use reusable bags instead of trash bags. You can also line your trash can with newspaper, and buy packaging-free produce like fish and cheese. While I recommend going with biodegradable or compostable trash bags, you can also use the trash can as it is. Just wash the can after use.

What are the problems with biodegradable plastics?

The problems with biodegradable plastics are: they produce methane gas when they break down, they produce toxic byproducts such as microplastics upon degradation, it takes quite a while for them to decompose completely, they are almost impossible to recycle, and the use of agricultural land to produce raw materials (like corn starch) that are used to make them can potentially drive food prices up.

Are biodegradable bags better than plastic?

Yes, biodegradable bags are better than plastic because they can decompose within 3 to 6 months. Take note though that the decomposition process requires favorable conditions to work optimally. Compostable bags, on the other hand, are fully biodegradable. They decompose in a home environment, making them perfect for domestic use. They are a better choice than normal plastic ones.

Can you put biodegradable bags in the green bin?

No, you cannot put biodegradable bags in the green bin. The green bin is only for recyclable things. These bags are not recyclable. Not only this, but they can also interfere with the recycling procedure of eligible materials. So, these trash bags, biodegradable as they are, shouldn’t still be put in the green bin as they can ruin a whole batch of recyclable materials.

Can you put biodegradable bags in the recycling bin?

You cannot put biodegradable bags in the recycling bin. They are not recyclable. And because they are not recyclable, they should be placed in the black/grey bin. Biodegradable trash bags are characterized as residual waste. So, they are either thrown off in a landfill or used as an energy source.

Are kitchen garbage bags recyclable?

Kitchen bags are not recyclable. These bags cannot be processed at the recycling facilities. Ultimately, the bags end up in landfills. Therefore, put the kitchen trash holders in the grey/black trash cans when you are done with them.

Our Recommended Compostable and Biodegradable Trash Bag

Saving the environment should be on top of our priority lists. While most of us can’t afford to make drastic changes in our lifestyle, every little bit helps since using compostable trash bags can help you cut down on toxic petroleum-based plastics that harm the environment.

My number 1 pick for the best biodegradable trash bag is the PlasticPlace 40-45 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags. These bags have been with me for over a month now. They are durable, non-toxic, and can hold heavy loads. And they are leak-proof.

Like most people who’ve bought them, I love these bags. Make sure you give them a go.

PlasticPlace 40-45 Gallon Compostable Trash Bags

Our # 1 Compostable and Biodegradable Trash Bag

  • Meets ASTM D6400 specifications
  • Translucent
  • Leak-proof
  • Can take heavy loads


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