As inspiring young people like Greta Thunberg continue to remind us, planet Earth is at serious risk of yet more permanent and irreversible damage if we as humans don’t start to make changes in our everyday lives, from the tiniest switch to the biggest commitments.
Recycling is a major part of any environmentally aware household, but what you may not have thought about is your trash, and more importantly, the bags you’re putting it in!
Single-use plastic may be cheap but heads straight to landfill, where it never rots away.
Compostable trash bags, however, will decompose entirely, breaking down into non-toxic, planet-safe materials that won’t contribute to the millions of miles of trash we throw away every single year: we’ve picked out five of the best available now, for your consideration.
Don’t be ashamed if you’re not exactly sure what composting is or why it’s better to use non-plastic bags for trash in the long run, as our useful Buyer’s Guide breaks down everything you need to know about these magic can liners, including any downsides.
Any last minute or remaining doubts should be directed to the handy Frequently Asked Questions section, where we’ve provided answers to burning customer queries from across the web, clearly and concisely.
And remember: reduce, reuse, recycle!
Time To Take Out The Trash (bags)?
Top 5 Best Compostable Trash Bags
When you want to start saving the world straight away, there’s no time to waste deciding which product is the best, so let us do it for you: we recommend the BioBag, available in boxes of 48, 100, 144, 300 and 576 to suit at-home or industrial use.
Very much au natural, each individual bag is composed of plant starch, vegetable oils and other fully-compostable polymers, certified in both the US and Europe as compostable, meeting the ASTM D6400 standards outlined by the Biodegradable Products Institute.
You’ll find these bags more than durable, as they’re star-sealed and gathered at the bottom to guarantee sturdiness and prevent unnecessary spillages – they are also produced in accordance with GMO avoidance, which has been legally verified.
At three gallons (or ten liters, if you prefer), you’ll struggle to find a trash bin they won’t fit snugly into, helping keep your containers clean so you can avoid the annoying task of scraping damp, unpleasant garbage out of the bottom!
As well as certification from the BPI, you can also rest assured that these bags will certainly compost in your backyard heap, as they’re registered with OK Compost HOME in recognition of their use for disposal in home decomposition.
- Available at various counts to suit your household
- Affordable and environmentally friendly
- BPI, non-GMO certified
- Certain to compost at home
- Must be used within one year of purchase
Measuring in at an impressive thirty three gallons, each bag from Primode is extra thick at 1.1 millimeters, so you can pack it to the brim with all of your compostable materials without having to worry about the potential for rips and tears.
Meeting BPI requirements in the USA, as well as the European TUV certification for backyard composting, there’s no worry that you’ll be stuck waiting for these bags to break down, as they adhere to all ASTM D65400 guidelines.
Arguably tougher than competing products, Primode promises that these bags are durable, resisting tears and frays you’ll find in other bags, ensuring that no matter whether you’re filling it with lawn and leaf scraps, food waste or other kitchen trash, it will stay secure.
Although they’re more expensive than other products, costing the same amount for a pack of 15 or 30 where other manufacturers are offering customers 100, they’re much more spacious than other bags and ideal for larger scale tasks like one-off or irregular yard work.
Customer reviews suggest that this bag is also great at sealing in odors from decomposing materials or particularly stinky garbage, which is great if your recycling system is conducted from inside your kitchen!
- Resilient, ‘extra-thick’ 1.1mm bags
- Certified for backyard composting
- More than enough capacity at 33 gallons
- Smell reduction
- Pricier than other choices from our list
Easy to store in your cupboard via their cute little recyclable cube, these affordable UNNI bags might cost less than other manufacturers, but they certainly pack an equal punch when it comes to resilience and space.
Available in packs of one, two or six (with each pack containing one hundred bags), they offer excellent value for money and ensure you’ll spend less time buying your containers, with more opportunities to actually compost!
Containing no polyethylene, each bag is made from plant starches; durable, non toxic and much better for the environment, they’re also certified compostable in the US by the BPI under standard ASTM D6600, as well as OK Compost Home under EU standard 13432.
With a 2.6 gallon capacity, together U ‘n’ I can make Earth a better place for longer, with plenty of space for your kitchen trash, which can then be composted WITH the bag in order to produce some high-quality fertilizer for your yard.
Storage wise, you should keep them in a dry, cool cupboard, using within one year of purchase – it’s advised you should only buy as many as you intend to use in nine months at a time, to ensure satisfaction with the product.
- Budget-friendly option
- Certified according to EU and US regulations
- Suitable for at-home composting
- Bulk-buy for even more value
- One year lifetime – don’t forget about them!
Good for use in most small US garbage bins, these 13 gallon compostable trash bags from Forid will make a great addition to your kitchen cupboard supplies and are excellent for use in your composting caddy if you have one, available in packs of 80 or 220 at a time.
Sealed with an octagonal bottom, these babies can withstand up at least 83lb of waste, so they’re great for larger families or big yard tasks like raking leaves and mowing your lawns; difficult to tear and leak-preventing, even younger users will have no trouble.
Certified according to the Biodegradable Products Institute, US standard ASTM D6400, as well as the EU OK Compost Home certification, they’re guaranteed to break down in your at-home compost set up, without needing to drop your waste off to a sanitation center.
Composed of PSM, a brand new biomaterial based on renewable plant starch extracts, these bags are odorless, harmless to the planet, and built purely to compost, so once their lives are over, they’ll live on in your fertilizer.
Their translucent green color means that if you have several bags of trash on the go, it’ll be easy to identify which one is which – there’ll be no more mixups for the garbage man on trash day, and your everyday kitchen organization is a breeze to boot.
- Taller than bags from competing brands
- Certified according to BPI, Home OK Compost and EU regulations
- Reinforced octagonal bottom – leak protection
- Spacious capacity of thirteen gallons
- Less variety in product counts for bulk buying
Staying true to their catchphrase – Built Strong! – using new Superbio technology, these fully compostable trash bags are as strong as non-biodegradable, plastic varieties, whilst being entirely Earth friendly, decomposing naturally in just 60 days.
Producing only carbon dioxide and water during the breakdown process, each one is composed of cornstarch, which is broken down by microorganisms in your backyard heap or composting caddy, contributing no single-use waste to the planet.
In compliance with both the ASTM D64000 and EN 13432 specifications, these bags can definitely be used at home, as certified by the BPI and TUV Austria, who determine which manufacturers will actually help customers reduce their carbon footprint.
At 13 gallons, or just under 50 liters, there’s plenty of room for whatever natural trash you want to fill it with, and as it’s dependably sturdy, you don’t have to worry about the potential for explosions, resulting in huge messes and time wasted cleaning up.
As a result of their patented design, the ImpossibleBag is a strong plastic substitute, and can be stored for up to two years without beginning the decomposition process, unlike their competing bags which must be used within twelve months.
- Two year storage time, 12 months more than competing manufacturers
- Strong and sturdy – won’t rip, tear or leak
- 100% compostable, both BPI and EU certified
- 13 gallon capacity is plenty for the average household
- White in color, not see-through – difficult to determine contents once full
Best Compostable Trash Bags Buying Guide
Composting: what does it mean?
Requiring the presence of air, as an aerobic decomposition method, composting is the process of breaking down organic solid wastes, recycling this material into the perfect fertilizer for your garden and reducing your contribution to single-use plastics and landfill.
Typically, when dubbed ‘compostable’, a bag will be made from vegetable matter, which upon meeting the optimum conditions will fully break down; some bags might not get hot enough for this process to begin in a home composting situation, however.
Making the switch – benefits and potential downsides
When you’re looking to implement some small changes to your daily routine for the greater good of the planet, switching out one of your most major purchases of single-use plastic for a natural, decomposable option is an excellent start.
Not only will they never end up as tiny particles in our oceans, or atop a pile of rubbish that won’t decrease at a landfill, as part of your garden’s compost heap, they will be recycled to be born again as an excellent plant fertilizer, increasing their usefulness.
However, depending on the material of your trash bag, it’s possible that you might not be able to achieve composting in your backyard, as it may not get hot enough for a long enough period of time, meaning you’ll have to rely on your local area’s sanitation services.
If you need to save money then you might be discouraged from taking the plunge, as unfortunately, compostable bags are more expensive to produce, reflected in the retail price set by manufacturers.
Features to consider
“It’s just a trash bag!” I hear you cry, “What else could I possibly need to know about it?!”
Well, dear reader, why do you think everybody hates taking out the garbage?
Possibly because it’s such a tiresome chore with plastic bags that rip at the slightest touch!
Your household’s total waste production will determine how big a bag you need, as will the size of your trash can – have you ever known the struggle of trying to put a tiny grocery store bag into your huge bin, only for it to inevitably flop to the bottom, rendered useless?
Whether you’re a neat and organized unit with labeled compost containers or you just throw the right stuff into the right bags, you’ll save money by purchasing the right size, having to pick up a fresh box less frequently, and there’s less likely to be garbage spilling all over your floor!
As we’ve mentioned above, in order to be considered “compostable”, a trash bag must be composed of matter that is able to decompose of its own accord, under a specific set of conditions, and will also specify whether or not this can be achieved at home.
Most popular amongst manufacturers is potato starch, which has a high percentage of amylopectin, a polymer (molecule chain) of glucose that strengthens starch and gives it that traditional structural integrity, making these bags stronger.
Potato-based trash bags are also better for the planet, as the growth of potatoes used specifically for their starch requires minimal water use and up to 40% less land space than corn to produce, so they’re more environmentally friendly overall.
Corn starch is another commonly used material, but takes much more of a toll on the Earth to produce, and when you’re trying to achieve a reduction in harm to the planet, it can feel counterintuitive to contribute some during the process.
The thickness of your bag is important to consider, as this determines how strong it will be and how likely it is to hold all of that trash once nice and full – look for bags with at least one-millimeter thickness to guarantee a sturdy, long-lasting garbage receptacle.
Okay, so you’re only going from your house to the yard, or maybe the curb, but you’re going to want this journey to be as pain-free as possible.
Drawstrings that tightly secure your bags once full prevent any mess – far more reliable than tying it twice and crossing your fingers.
Likewise, smaller bags for, let’s say, office food bins, are made much easier to transport to the larger waste facilities in your building if they have built-in handles, for swift carrying that keeps your hands clean. Rotting fruit and teabags all over your blazer, anyone?
When you’re after a trash bag that is actually going to decompose, you want to make sure the manufacturer has declared that they are either BPI or ASTM D6500 certified, which ensures they adhere to the regulations outlined by the Biodegradable Products Institute.
As a result, whilst bags that are advertised as biodegradable might take years to actually begin to break down, compostable bags with the appropriate certification are guaranteed to work as advertised, as well as far more likely to be accepted by composting services.
Remember, though, that if you’re filling these bags with organic matter, particularly the moist, damp kind, they’ll begin to break down rather quickly as the composting process begins, meaning you’ll have to get a fresh one often or use separate bags for food or garden waste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put compostable plastic in my compost?
Whilst a plastic might be advertised as compostable according to the Biodegradable Products Institute (as explained in the Buyer’s Guide), this does not necessarily mean you can achieve this process at home.
Plastics that can break down require your compost heap or bag to reach and remain at a much higher temperature than it is capable of, so you won’t be able to successfully compot them in your backyard, requiring the service of an industrial composting plant.
Is biodegradable or compostable better?
The answer to this question depends on your personal trash bag needs!
Whilst compostable trash bags must be able to decompose at home, biodegradable bags are usually made from plastic, so aren’t necessarily all-natural and will take much longer to break down.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that compostable bags require no input from humans in order to degrade, being fully natural; this means they are not only useful to the planet, and create zero negative waste, but also operate autonomously!
Will compostable items break down in landfills?
Whilst they will definitely break down in landfill settings, because of their proximity to other organic matter in a landfill, during the degradation process the compostable bags will produce methane as a byproduct, which contributes massively to global warming.