Biodegradable vs Compostable Dog Poo Bags - Which Is Best?
Over the last decade, people have become increasingly aware of environmental issues (largely thanks to the legend that is Sir David Attenborough) and have taken great steps towards minimising their impact, particularly when it comes to single-use plastics. However, there is one area where plastic bags still remain the top choice for people around the world - picking up after their dogs.
If you take into consideration that there are an estimated 10.1 million dogs in the UK who poo 3 times a day on average, that’s potentially over 11 billion poo bags per year being used in the UK alone. Couple that with the fact that a single plastic bag can take over 500 years to degrade - it’s pretty worrying to think about!
There are a couple of ‘eco-friendly’ options that have appeared on the pet market over the last few years, the main two being biodegradable and compostable poo bags - but what is the difference and should you choose one over the other? Let’s dig a little deeper.
Biodegradable Poo Bags
The dictionary definition of biodegradable reads: “able to decay naturally and in a way that is not harmful to the environment”
You’ll see a lot of poo bag packaging that features claims such as ‘100% biodegradable’ which, on the face of things, given the above definition, sounds like a planet friendly choice. However, despite how clever and convincing the marketing on these products might be, when you look into it further, things aren’t quite as they seem.
The dark truth is that these bags are still made from plastic. The likelihood of them degrading in conditions such as landfill sites is extremely slim. Even if they do eventually disintegrate, the process can take tens, if not hundreds of years and the result is just smaller pieces of plastic called micro-plastics. These micro-plastics can then find their way into the soil, contaminate water supplies and can be extremely harmful to organisms and animals that consume them.
In 2015, Richard Thompson, a British Marine Biologist who studies plastic waste, and his graduate students at Plymouth University, undertook several tests to find out exactly how biodegradable bags degrade over time. The tests were conducted in three different environments - immersed in water, buried in soil and exposed to outdoor air.
After 3 months underwater, the biodegradable bag remained intact and when buried in soil, after the same amount of time, the biodegradable bag showed minimal to no signs of decomposition and was still capable of holding 2.2kg of groceries. You can read the study results here.
Compostable Poo Bags
If you’re looking for the best eco-friendly option on the market when it comes to poo bags, compostable bags are the way to go. Compostable dog poo bags are made from plant-based materials such as cornstarch and are entirely plastic free, meaning that when they decompose, they leave behind organic plant matter rather than damaging micro-plastics.
Compostable essentially means that the materials are capable of breaking down into natural elements in a compost environment, such as an industrial composting facility or even a home composting heap. The creation of materials like cornstarch also have a fantastically low carbon footprint, meaning that even the process of creating them is less environmentally damaging than biodegradable bags.
The other major advantage of compostable bags is how quickly they break down. In comparison to the hundreds of years it can take a plastic bag to decompose, compostable bags can break down in as little as 3-6 months, leaving behind natural materials that are absorbed back into the environment and feed microorganisms. Even in challenging environments such as landfill, compostable bags should still break down in around 12 months.
Our advice would be to look for bags that are certified for home composting (EN13432 and OK Compost HOME). This means that you can pop them on your compost heap at home and turn your dog waste into a super nutritious feed for your plants and garden. However, for obvious reasons, you should never include your dog waste in compost that you are planning to use on foods that you will consume, such as fruits and vegetables.
Where Can I Buy Compostable Dog Poo Bags?
If you’ve decided that poo bags are the best way to dispose of your dog waste and you are looking to buy compostable dog poo bags then we can help you!
We offer a range of compostable poo bags through our webstore, which you can browse here: Compostable Dog Poo Bags
Alternatively, here are some great brands offering compostable options:
Alex & Kiki founded Fetch It back in 2019 when they took their first ever dog home and realised that cleaning up after the dog with conventional plastic poo bags was only going to exacerbate the plastic pollution problem. Fast forward 2 years and they now have the largest selection of compostable dog poo bags on the market. They are also the only company in the market that has tie handle poo bags on a roll! Their bags are made from cornstarch and certified to the highest European Standards for compostability (EN13432 and OK Compost HOME). Fetch It donate 1% of their profits to 3 different charities - Moor Trees, who plant trees and restore woodland, Surfers Against Sewage, who educate communities on the danger of plastics in our oceans, and Underdog International, who aim to positively impact one million children and dogs by 2025.
Ben, the founder of Adios Plastic, came up with the idea of launching a plastic-free poo bag company in 2017 when he became aware of the devastating effects that plastic was having on the planet. Their bags are made from cornstarch, are home compost friendly and naturally break down in 3-6 months, leaving nothing behind. They also donate a minimum of 1% from every sale to help clean up oceans and protect wildlife.
The Green Poop Bag
Designed by a group of pet owners, these double award-winning bags are made from a unique sugar and corn starch blend. They are EU EN13432 certified and TUV OK Home compostable approved and have been tested to decompose within 3-6 months, even in home compost.
Bag And Boop
Bag and Boop is a business inspired by a love for animals and the great outdoors. Mark & Charli set up the business after wanting to find a more environmentally friendly way to collect and dispose of dog poo. Their dog poo bags are made from cornstarch, are plastic free and 100% compostable. They meet strict European testing standards and are EN13432, OK HOME compost and Din Certco certified. Bags achieve full degradation within 180 days within ideal conditions.