Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags FAQ:
What are biodegradable dog poop bags?
Biodegradable poop bags are dog poop bags that are advertised as good for the environment because they break down. However, the ‘good for the environment’ section of that statement is open to interpretation and has been exploited by marketers to greenwash us, which we will explain below.
Most materials will break down over time, including plastic, so can have the biodegradable term attached to them. This includes biodegradable dog poo bags. And the word biodegradable has no government tests associated with it, so it’s really just code for saying the poop bags will break down at ‘some point’, even if that some point is hundreds of years in the future.
Compostable, on the other hand, is a word that has government standards attached to it that say the material must break back down to organic matter and be gone in 180 days. This means compostable is truly sustainable and earth friendly.
Also, as a point of putting all the facts on the table, ‘compostable’ is a subcategory of ‘biodegradable’, so a compostable dog poop bag is biodegradable. But not all biodegradable dog poop bags are compostable.
Always look for the composting logos, if you can’t see them - it’s probably plastic. Here in Australia, the AS 5810 standard is for home composting and AS 4736 is for commercial composting.
Here at Oh Crap, we only sell compostable dog poop bags. So you know what you are getting.
Oxo-Degradable Dog Poop Bags?
You will see oxo-degradable dog poop bags advertised as ‘good’ because they
break down quickly. However, oxo-degradable dog poop bags are made from plastic
and actually just fragment into millions of pieces quickly, called
microplastics. But they never actually degrade.
Are biodegradable dog poop bags actually biodegradable?
This question follows on from the last section and is a question we hear a lot. The simple answer is yes, biodegradable dog poop bags are biodegradable. But that doesn’t always mean they are eco-friendly, and if they are being advertised as biodegradable and not compostable, they are probably plastic.
As mentioned above, biodegradable is a term that has no tests around it, and most materials in the world biodegrade over time. This includes biodegradable dog poop bags, which are generally plastic, and all that happens is the plastic breaks into millions of smaller pieces that we call microplastics. This is technically biodegrading. But it still means that all that plastic hasn’t gone anywhere, and now it’s in small pieces and is the stuff that's finding its way into all the animals on the planet and us humans.
Also, don’t be tricked by brands with eco-sounding names but actually just sell biodegradable (plastic) dog poop bags. If you don’t see the composting logos, it's not compostable.
Are Biodegradable dog poo bags eco-friendly?
When you see biodegradable & not compostable, generally, it means it is code for ‘it has plastic in it’, which means no, biodegradable dog poop bags are not eco-friendly.
However, when you see compostable, that means the dog poop bag has passed strict government tests on compostability and are eco-friendly.
Do biodegradable dog poop bags work?
We hear this question a bit in relation to if biodegradable dog poop bags just fall apart. As mentioned above, if a dog poop bag just says it’s biodegradable and not compostable, it’s probably plastic.
If we are talking about plastic dog poop bags, then they will last for many years - they are plastic, after all. However, many biodegradable dog poop bags are extremely thin, saving on cost. This thinness means the bag may break if it’s a big dump you are picking up. Plus, you get that warm, crap feel on your hands every time you use them.
When Oh Crap started, we wanted to make the best dog poop bags, period, not just compostable dog poop bags. That is why we chose to make our poop bags 3x thicker than the average pet waste bag. This means next time your furry friend is giving you the eyes to say… well are you going to clean up after me, you know, when you put your hand in the bag, you aren’t going to get that crap feeling all over your hands.
This is why many dog-walking professionals and doggy organisations use our bags as if you are picking up poop all day, you don’t want it on your hands.
How long do biodegradable dog poop bags take to decompose?
Again, to build on the above, if you see dog poop bags advertised as just biodegradable, they are probably plastic. These days companies have found ways to make these biodegradable poop bags break down quickly within a few years because they can then say it degrades quickly. However, all that happens is these plastic bags just break up into millions of small pieces of plastic called microplastics.
In fact, Greenpeace says all the plastic that has ever been created is still in the world today.
However, when you see compostable dog poop bags, that means it has passed the government tests for composting. To pass the tests, a dog poop bag has to be 90% gone in 12 weeks and completely gone in 180 days. Only when these standards are passed can a bag be certified compostable in Australia with AS 5810 for home composting and AS 4736 for commercial composting.
How long do biodegradable dog poop bags last?
Following on from the above, if a dog poop bag is just biodegradable, i.e. it's probably plastic, it will last for many years before it breaks down.
However, here at Oh Crap, our dog poop bags are compostable. They can be easily stored in cool, dry conditions for 12 months from purchase. If you are out on a walk and your poop bags get wet, they are still good for about 30 days. It’s only when they get exposed to real composting conditions that the poop bag degrading process accelerates.
What’s the difference between biodegradable dog poop bags and compostable ones?
Because of how marketers and big businesses have tried to greenwash us, this question can be a confusing one.
In so many ways, biodegradable dog poop bags and compostable dog poop bags are the same - they break down in a similar way, but they differ in one critical fact. If a dog poop bag is just being advertised as biodegradable, they are probably plastic. Whereas compostable dog poop bags are actually made from organic materials, so are earth friendly.
As shared above, a compostable dog poop bag can also be called biodegradable as that describes the overall scientific process by which they break down. But dog poo bags that are only biodegradable are not compostable.
Granted, many dog poop bags that are only biodegradable will break down at ‘some point’, but as they are plastic, they just leave behind smaller microplastics (unseen by the human eye). Compostable dog poo bags leave behind nothing but fertiliser in a matter of a few months.
Are compostable dog poop bags better?
For us, it was the moment all those years ago when we found out that biodegradable means nothing and was actually just plastic being dressed up to sound good as it degraded quicker than other plastic that got us.
Compostable dog poop bags are better because there are strict standards defining that they must 100% return to being organic material in 180 days. So you know what you are buying is eco-friendly.
Are dog poop bags biodegradable?
This is a three-part answer.
First, some dog poop bags are still simply advertised as plastic, and as you can guess by the name - they are plastic.
Next, lots of dog poop bags these days are advertised as biodegradable & earth friendly. However, as shared above, when a dog poop bag is advertised as biodegradable, they are probably plastic. And that plastic will never truly disappear. Biodegradable does not mean eco-friendly, it probably just means we as humans can’t see the plastic anymore - but it’s inside of us instead.
Compostable, on the other hand, are dog poop bags that have to pass government tests to confirm they degrade back to organic matter within 180 days. Compostable dog poop bags can also be referred to as biodegradable because that describes the degrading process, but biodegradable dog poop bags can’t be referred to as compostable unless they have been tested and certified.
Do biodegradable dog poop bags have handles?
Yes, you can get biodegradable dog poop bags with handles. However, here at Oh Crap, we have chosen to offer both rectangle dog poop bags and dog poop bags with handles. Why? Making dog poop bags with handles actually requires that you produce a bigger bag and then cut out the handles, wasting that section. Yes, our bags are compostable, but you still have to go through the machining up front to make a bigger bag that takes energy, which, if we don’t have to use it, we won’t. Plus, many handled dog poop bags also have gussets adding to the amount of material needed to make them, which goes against our objective of sustainability.
However, we know that some people want handles, and that's awesome, so we offer handled dog poop bags.
Didn’t find the answer you were looking for? See the rest of our FAQs here.