5 min read
Biodegradable vs. Compostable Dog Poop Bags
By Aurus Sy
Published: 04/18/2022, edited: 05/06/2022
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We love our dogs! But we don't always love their waste products, which is why we've created scoopers and bags to help us rein in this smelly feature of our furvorite furry friends. But, what happens next?
It is estimated that 500 million plastic poop bags are used around the world each year. Though cheap, available, and convenient, plastic bags have detrimental effects on the environment. As environmental awareness increases among pet parents, we’ve seen more eco-friendly pet products hit the stores, including poop bags that are labeled as biodegradable or compostable.
Is there a difference between the two? And which one is better for the environment? In this guide, we'll explore the answers to these questions and more!
What's the difference between biodegradable and compostable bags?
Biodegradable waste bags
Some dog parents may assume that a biodegradable waste bag will disappear completely after it goes to the landfill. After all, biodegradable means something that can be broken down naturally in the environment. So, it should be all good, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Biodegradable bags are made from polylactic acid (PLA), a thermoplastic derived from renewable sources such as cornstarch, sugarcane, and tapioca. However, the biodegradation process can only happen in an environment where oxygen is present. Because there are layers of trash piled up in a contained space, landfills often lack oxygen, so nothing can really biodegrade there. And if the bags do break apart in the landfill, they will actually emit methane gas, which is far more harmful than carbon dioxide.
There are also bags that are labeled as biodegradable, but are really traditional plastic bags with degradable additives that make them break down faster. Over time, these bags disintegrate into tiny fragments known as microplastics, which can eventually contaminate our waterways.
Compostable waste bags
Compostable means something that can be fully broken down in compost and transformed into organic waste. Not all biodegradable bags are compostable, but all compostable bags are biodegradable.
Compostable bags are made from natural plant-based materials such as corn, flax, and bamboo. They can be composted at home or in an industrial compost facility, but it’s important to note that home compostable bags and commercially compostable bags have different requirements in order to break down. While a home compostable bag can be composted in an industrial facility, a commercially compostable bag cannot be composted at home.
Unlike biodegradable bags, compostable bags need to meet certain standards, such as the American ASTM D6400 and European EN 13432. To make sure a bag is truly compostable, look for certification logos on the product.
What kind of waste bag should you use?
What’s the best option for pet parents who are trying to reduce their carbon paw print? While compostable bags may seem like the most ideal choice, not everyone has access to home, community, or industrial composts. Like biodegradable bags, compostable bags cannot break down in landfills. Therefore, the best option for you depends on your individual situation, particularly where you live.
If your municipality can compost used waste bags into usable soil, then great! Otherwise, try composting at home or finding a community compost site that accepts dog waste near you. If you’ll be composting at home, be sure not to use the compost to fertilize your fruits and veggies, as dog poop can contain parasites and bacteria. You can, however, use it on flowers, grass, and other non-edible plants.
Eco-friendly waste bag brands
In terms of production, biodegradable and compostable bags can actually have a bigger carbon paw print than traditional plastic bags. That’s because plants require energy and resources to grow and convert to plastic, while regular plastic is easy and cheap to produce. If we were to look at the big picture, however, using sustainable materials prevents microplastics from contaminating our environment, diverts or reduces waste from landfills, and is ultimately better for our planet.
Here are some eco-friendly waste bag brands that are pet parent-approved!
Doggy Do Good
Doggy Do Good is a biodegradable and certified home compostable premium pet waste bag made from renewable cornstarch and other bio-based components. The bags are thick, durable, and leak-proof, yet lightweight and soft to the touch. The cores and packaging are made from 100% recycled materials as well. Doggy Do Good bags break down within 90 days in an industrial composting facility and within 6 to 12 months in a home compost. The Royal Oak, Michigan-based family business is also a member of 1% for the Planet and donates a portion of proceeds to animal welfare and environmental organizations.
If you have a big pooch, Pogi’s makes an extra-large biodegradable and compostable waste bag with handles that can be tied easily. These plant-based and plastic-free bags are certified compostable worldwide, having met the testing standards of different countries, and can be composted at home and in industrial facilities. Sturdy and leak-proof, Pogi’s poop bags are designed to handle the toughest of jobs and come in a convenient box dispenser.
PET N PET
PET N PET’s compostable line of poop bags is biodegradable and can be composted at home and in industrial facilities. These vegetable-based bags contain no polyethylene and break down into water and carbon dioxide within 90 to 180 days. They’re also extra thick and come with a 100% leak-proof guarantee. PET N PET compostable poop bags are large enough for all sizes of dogs and can be easily opened with one hand—no more fumbling around trying to get a bag open, just scoop as soon as Fido poops!
Give a Sh!t
With a mission to create products that can go back to nature, Give a Sh!t offers regular and handled poop bags that are biodegradable and certified home compostable. Made from cornstarch, PBAT (a biodegradable polymer), and edible glycerin, these bags feature a cute design, are easy to separate, and have a thickness of 18 microns to lock away odors. Give a Sh!t has also partnered with the Soi Dog Foundation to help homeless dogs and cats in Asia.
Though not technically a bag, Pooch Paper is another eco-friendly solution for picking up dog poop. Made in the USA using renewable energy, these recycled paper sheets are 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable, with a grease-resistant coating on both sides for mess-free clean-ups. The coating is created naturally during the pulp drying process, so no chemicals are added to the product. To use Pooch Paper, simply take the poop with it, twist the top to secure the contents, and then toss it in the garbage or compost bin.
For more ways to go green with your pup, check out our other zero-waste guides:
- How to Live Zero Waste with a Dog
- The Ultimate Guide to Zero-Waste Dog Poop Disposal
- The Ultimutt Guide to Zero Waste Dog Grooming