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.
There are about 500 billion plastic bags used worldwide. One plastic bag takes 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. These bags aren’t recyclable, and they end up in landfills, our rivers, and seas.
But, plastic bags pose a threat even when they decompose. Plastic bags in landfills leach toxins and microplastics. They can have harmful chemicals which pollute the water that reaches wildlife and humans.
While it’s impossible to stop using plastic in all areas of life, we can switch to biodegradable trash bags. Some of these bags take longer to break down in landfills than in an open environment, but they are still a more eco-friendly option compared to plastic bags.
Here are all the reasons why you should switch to biodegradable trash bags.
Biodegradable bags have fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to plastic ones. This is because they are made of plants, such as corn and sugarcane.
These plants absorb carbon while growing, which offsets the carbon they release while breaking down.
Biodegradable trash bags break down up to 1,000 times faster compared to plastic bags, as long as they are in the right environment.
Compostable trash bags start the decomposition process as soon as they are exposed to moisture or fungi and bacteria. This causes a faster breakdown time.
However, some compostable trash bags should be disposed of at commercial facilities because they require high heat to break down.
Biodegradable trash bags break down completely. Most importantly, they don’t turn into microplastics as regular plastic bags do.
Microplastics end up in our organisms and can cause health issues over time, so biodegradable bags are a much safer option.
No, regular kitchen garbage bags aren’t recyclable. These bags are made of plastic. They are too thin, and there’s a high risk of getting snagged in the belts of the processing machinery. These bags can clog the machines used for recycling.
However, there’s a small number of curbside programs which does accept regular kitchen garbage bags, although these programs aren’t very common.
You should check if there are any such programs in your area.
If you thought dumping your trash straight into the garbage can and reusing or recycling the garbage bag, it unfortunately won’t work.
The best thing you can do is go to stores such as Walmart, Lowe’s, and Sprouts and see if they have a bag collection bin. You can also check other local grocery stores.
Everything mentioned above goes for black garbage bags as well. They aren’t biodegradable, especially if they are buried ten feet underground for years in a landfill.
Black plastic bags are made of polyethylene (PE). One polyethylene sheet only has partial degradation when kept in moist soil for up to 32 years.
Overall, black plastic bags aren’t biodegradable.
They will only degrade partially, and that’s only after decades spent in landfills, during which time they can leach toxins and harmful chemicals.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These 13-gallon compostable trash bags can be used in municipal and industrial facilities.
The bags are tough, so you don’t have to fear they’ll tear.
You get 150 bags in the mega pack.
There are 25 bags on six rolls, and each bag is easily torn off the coreless rolls. The bags can be stored and used within 12 months.
Keep in mind, you should keep them in a cool and dry area.
If the bags are exposed to high temperatures and sunlight, they’ll start the composting process.
These are reusable retail grocery store bags. You get 25 bags in one pack.
The bags have paper handles which make carrying easy.
Because they are made of durable paper, they can hold heavy-weight items and are recyclable and compostable.
These are perfect for storing small pieces of cardboard that go to the recycling bin.
You can also use them for picking up after your dog or hauling gardening items.
The bags have a recycle, reuse, reduce message printed on them, so you can even inspire others to act green.
If you’re looking for a compostable dog and cat poop bags, these could be the ones.
You get 180 bags on 12 rolls.
Each bag has handles that are easy to tie, so you don’t have to fear any mishaps.
Plus, the bags are easy to open while strong enough to prevent leaking and odor.
These are vegetable-based poop bags, extra thick and leak-proof.
They break down in only 90 days, which makes them great for the planet.
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.
And, the best part is that these bags are producing organic waste.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saving the environment might seem like a gigantic task. But, we have it keep it at the top of our priority lists.
Even if you can’t afford or aren’t able to make drastic changes in your lifestyle, it’s alright. Every little bit helps, and using biodegradable and compostable trash bags is one of the best ways to help our planet.
By using biodegradable trash bags, you’ll cut down on toxic plastics that harm the environment. Check the list of compostable trash bags I mentioned above, and choose the bag that best suits your needs. Let’s help your planet today!
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