Compostable Bags 101

There are so many alternatives to traditional plastic bags - which are typically made of petroleum or natural gas. You probably already know that plastic bags take years to even start decomposing. Even then, they don’t ever fully decompose and instead break into tiny pieces of plastic that can end up in our water, food, and consumed by animals.

If you’re looking for a plastic bag alternative, the best way to stop using plastic bags is not using them at all. But sometimes there are situations where we need a bag we can throw away and that’s okay!

There are a few types of alternatives to the traditional plastic bag. The two main ones are Biodegradable and Compostable. At first, you may think they’re essentially the same, or compostable bags are the most eco-friendly, but it all comes down to what you are using the bag for and how you are disposing of that bag. So let's take a look at them together!



Biodegradable

First we need to quickly discuss biodegradable bags before getting into compostable bags!

A biodegradable bag is much like a degradable one, but with added microorganisms that help with breaking down the plastic. 

The bad thing about biodegradable bags is that it may be hard to tell whether a bag labelled as biodegradable is actually true or not.

But are biodegradable bags compostable? No. Biodegradable bags take 5-10 years to break down in landfill and are not compostable or break down under high temperatures.

These bags should only be placed in your general waste bin. So best to try and avoid these ones if possible! Paper bags would perhaps be a better option if you needed to line a bin. Even then a paper bag would then be compostable.

 

Compostable

While a compostable bag may seem like the most eco-friendly alternative this is not always the case. Let’s go into the details as to why.

A compostable bag will only compost in the right conditions. It will not compost in landfill. Infact, a compostable bag in landfill is probably worse than a plastic bag as it will take as long to decompose and will mummify with all the other trash.

You should only use a compostable bag if the bag will be used and composted properly. This means that the contents of the bag needs to be taken into consideration. Compostable bags should only be filled with organic matter and then placed into home or commercial compost. Commercial compost facilities sometimes do not accept compostable bags filled with organic waste to limit contamination. So it is important to check with your local compost facility before dropping off your waste. If using a compostable bag in your home do not place general household waste, diseased plants, or plastic in your bags! 

You can use them for food scraps, paper, grass clippings or garden waste and place it into your green organics or home composter. 

You can even get compostable package mailers which is actually what we use to send your Monty Monitors in!


While compostable bags sound promising and they are a great option for composters to use they are not the solution to plastic bags. We hope these tips help you navigate compostable bags a little easier and provide some perspective on waste management! 

If you're planning on composting your organics in a compostable bag, you can track its decomposition data through the Monty Mobile app! Download it for free on your smartphone 📱💚

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