The difference between biodegradable and compostable dog poo bags

The difference between biodegradable and compostable dog poo bags

The latest report by Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) states there are over 6.3 million dogs in Australia. Considering your average dog poops twice a day, that’s a lot of dog poo! And a lot of poo bags! But can you tell the bad from the good in the world of poo bags?

As you probably know, we're doing everything we can to minimise our carbon paw print. We use recycled plastic bottles for our eco-friendly dog leads and can't bring ourselves to use anything other than compostable poo bags.

However, as Australia banned single use plastic bags, several earth friendly poo bag options entered the market. You’d think that’s a good thing, but these greener alternatives aren’t always what they seem. In this blog we explain the words degradable, biodegradable, and compostable, so you can make the greenest choice possible before picking up your next poo.  

What is degradable plastic?

Degradable bags are made from oil-based plastic. Yes, very nasty stuff indeed. Other chemicals, such as heavy metals, are added so the plastic bags can break down over time. When degradable bags are released into nature, they disintegrate into tiny pieces of plastic.

You might be surprised to learn that these small plastic particles can cause more harm to nature than a still intact plastic bag would. Microplastics, as these tiny pieces of plastic are called, are very difficult to remove from our natural environment, our oceans in particular. Here, fish, sea mammals and other wildlife consume the microplastics causing ingestion and a build-up of toxicity in their bodies.

What is biodegradable plastic?

Biodegradable dog poo bags are marketed as being environmentally friendly, but this isn’t entirely true. Most biodegradable poo bags are made from petroleum, just like regular plastic bags, but with added micro-organisms to break down the plastic.

Just like degradable plastic bags, biodegradable bags will break down into small plastic pieces over time. While degradable bags can take a thousand years to break down, biodegradable bags break down into microplastics within a few years.

Using the word bio in its name is a sneaky way to make you believe that what you’re buying is environmentally friendly, but it’s not. Both degradable and biodegradable poo bags will ultimately end up polluting our oceans.

What is compostable plastic?

Compostable plastic is made from natural materials such as corn-starch instead of petroleum.  Contributing to a greener environment is important to us and that’s why the ziippup poo bags are made from corn, are printed with environmentally friendly water-based ink and are fully compostable.

In the right environment, compostable poo bags break down completely within three months and won’t produce any toxic material in the process. You need to be mindful of how you store these bags though as they’re sensitive to light and will last approx. 18 months before they start breaking down. Keep that in mind before you place a bulk order.

Dog poo and landfill

Some local councils let you put compostable poo bags in your green bin or food organics bin. Unfortunately, this isn’t common practice. To find out what the guidelines are in your area, we suggest you contact your local council.  

Whether you use a compostable or, God forbid, plastic poo bag and pop it into your regular bin, the bag will end up in landfill. A plastic bag can take a thousand years to break down in landfill and even the ecofriendly compostable bag doesn’t break down well in these cramped conditions.

So, should you spend an extra dollar and buy compostable poo bags? Yes, you absolutely should! Compostable plastic bags are made from natural materials, not petroleum-based plastic. Even if these compostable bags end up in landfill, they’re still best for the environment.

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