Eco-friendly dog waste disposal methods – Biodegradable vs Compostable doggy bags
Over the last decade, humanity has made tremendous efforts to minimize its environmental impact and big strides towards eliminating single-use plastic. Unfortunately, plastic bags remain the primary method of disposing of pet waste for dog owners all over the globe.
According to Bio News, approximately 500 million plastic poop bags are used annually throughout the world. And the more shocking truth is that one plastic bag can take over 500 years to degrade in a landfill. That’s why we need to find a better alternative to our doggy poo bags.
Something that’s good for the planet and the environment, while still being a viable solution for something that dog owners face every single day: cleaning up after our four-legged friends.
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Alternative to plastic bags for dog waste disposal
But what alternatives do we have? That’s what most of us started asking ourselves where we were faced with the harsh reality of the single-use plastic bags that will be left behind, long after we’re gone.
That’s where compostable and biodegradable dog poo bags come into play!
In more recent years, “compostable”, “biodegradable”, or even “flushable” dog poo bags have appeared on the market, promising to be better for our planet.
A lot of environmental-conscious dog owners are making the decision to go green. But how do you know which poo bags to choose? And what’s the difference between compostable and biodegradable bags?
That’s what we’re going to unpack today, in our quest to find a truly eco-friendly alternative to plastic waste bags to use when walking your pooch.
“Biodegradable” dog poop bags and why they are misleading
A popular choice that appears to be truly-eco friendly (but spoiler alter: it’s not) is the biodegradable doggie poo bags. And with flashy promises of being “100% degradable” and misleading green packaging, who wouldn’t believe them?
In essence, biodegradable materials suggest that they would degrade to little or nothing over a period of time, breaking down into natural materials in the environment. posing less of a hazard to wildlife and the environment.
This is the sort of claim is made all the time by plastic manufacturers, yet recent research has revealed “biodegradable” plastic bags still intact after three years spent buried underground.
What’s even worse is the fact that pet brands and now manufacturing “oxo-biodegradable” poo bags that use the EPI additives – claiming that they break down is 6 months or less. Here’s where the confusion lies:
According to multiple publications, oxo-degradable plastics are commonly PERCEIVED to be biodegradable (and most of the time, declared as such). However, they are simply conventional plastics with additives called prodegredants that accelerate the oxidation process.
(Biodegradable and oxo-biodegradable bags both require the presence of oxygen to effectively disintegrate and therefore ineffective in a landfill, where they could end up rotting for years.)
While oxo-degradable plastics do break down faster than traditional plastic, degradation is still highly dependent upon environmental conditions and they undergo processes that generate microplastics.
These microplastics can then easily infiltrated into the soil, air, or water supplies around, and they are nearly impossible to filter out once that happens.
Compostable dog poop bags and why they are the best alternative
There’s been a lot of debate over compostable versus biodegradable over the years, with many experts corroborating the difference between the two.
In essence, compostable materials are capable of disintegrating into all-natural elements in a compost environment (for example, and industrial composting facility or a home composting pile) nourishing the earth instead of polluting it.
And – unlike oxo-biodegradable bags, they contain absolutely no plastics and they don’t break down further into micro-plastics either. (In fact, most compostable bags are made out of cornstarch, third-grade spoilt corn, and other plants, normally a waste product left to rot by farmers.)
While they might take up to 12 months or more to degrade in a challenging enviroment like a landfill, according to Professor M Leigh Ackland, who is a molecular biologist at Deakin University in Australia, and who has been successfully composting her dog’s poo for 25 years in her domestic garden compost heap, in proper conditions, a compostable poo bag will only take 3 months to compost.
“Rather than becoming a pollutant, dog poo can become a nutrient for your garden, by being composted in your backyard. If you have a garden you can make your own compost bin by adding the dog poo to grass clippings, plant or other organic waste, and even sawdust as a source of food for the microbes.” she explains.
Whether you choose to start home composting, dispose of the waste in an industrial composting facility or simply toss it in the bin, it’s no question that compostable bags are the only true green alternative to plastic bags.
What to look out for when picking a compostable poop bags brand?
Just how oxo-biodegradable bags, or bags that use the EPI technology often use the term “biodegradable” without being able to back it up, the term “compostable” is also thrown around by pet brands looking to appeal to green consumers.
To make sure a brand is truly offering compostable dog poop bags, you need to look out for the:
- The EN13432 and ASTM D6400 certifications if they are sold in the US or Europe. (Ideally, both, as one denotes the fact that the bags fully degrade in a set time period, and the other certified them for either home & composting facilities).
- The TÜV AUSTRIA’s “OK compost” or “OK compost home” mark on their packaging or website, which guarantees them as biodegradable in an industrial composting plant & homemade composting pile. This applies to all components of the bag, inks and additives. (And stay away from scented poo bags if possible, as even the bio ones are counterintuitive when they have numerous additives added to give off artificial scents.)
And avoid any brands or so called compostable/biodegradable bags that:
- Use the EPI-technology, have EPI-additives, are oxo-degradable or are biodegradable without also being compostable.
- Claim to break down in only 30 to 60 days. While truly compostable bags can break down in as little as 3 months, that’s only when the environment meets all the requirements, and not when the bags end up in landfills. A more realistic time-frame for complete degradation is 3 to 12 months.
The best compostable dog poo bags on the market:
Ready to make the switch? If you choose an eco-friendly alternative, such as a poop bag that’s compostable and plastic free (like ours!), you’re taking a huge step towards reducing your plastic usage.
In fact, if just one out of five dog owners from the US alone would make the switch, we would be cutting down plastic usage by over 1,275,000 every single day (taking to account an average use of 3 poo bags per day) and stopping nearly 40 million single-use plastic bags to reach the landfill monthly.
It all starts with you!
Best UK eco-friendly dog poop bags
We couldn’t let you get away without talking a little bit about our very own poop bags that, you guessed it, are fully compostable, plastic-free, and made out of 100% cornstarch. If you’re from the UK and Europe, you can order yours in bulk from our shop or have them delivered for free from Amazon.
Our Alpha Pets pet waste bags are 100% biodegradable AND compostable (via European standards), made out of third-grade spoilt corn, normally a waste product left to rot by farmers.
With absolutely no EPI-additives or micro-plastics, our corn-based bags fully degrade and decompose in 3-12 months (depending on the disposal conditions), nourishing the earth instead of polluting it.
Their composition allows the bags to break down naturally and be consumed as food by microorganisms. Whether the bag of poop is thrown into a trash can or a bin dedicated to composting, it will naturally return to the earth within a few months.
We’re also proud to be one of the few brands that offer these type of bags equipped with handle ties, for a quick accident-free pick-up and disposal.
So when it comes to truly earth-friendly single use bags, always choose compostable over biodegradable poop bags. Choose Alpha Pets!
Best US compostable dog poop bags
We’re working hard on making our bags available for purchase worldwide, because as of now we can only deliver to the United Kingdom and a few select European countries.
In the meantime, check out a few US brands that are holding up a fort, and compiling with the regulations behind a truly compostable bag:
It is possible to take great care of your dogs, responsibly dispose of their waste, and do your part in taking care of our planet. This is why it is important to not only purchase plastic-free products but to raise awareness with your friends and family about harmful products that are marketed as “sustainable.” When we educate ourselves and others, we have the opportunity to make a difference for future generations of people and dogs.
If you haven’t already, read our post on 3 ways to dispose of dog poo in an eco-friendly way.