Biodegradable Bags

Put in Garbage Cart/Bin

Not Recyclable

Biodegradable bags are plastic, but possess non-plastic materials that become contaminants in the recycling stream. Put them in your garbage instead.

no compost

Not Compostable

Not all biodegradable objects are compostable. Research has shown that if you try to put biodegradable bags in a compost pile, they will stop breaking down before they finish degrading. To be safe, put them in your garbage.

Ways to Reduce

reusable tote bag

Use Reusable Bags

Even if a bag is truly biodegradable, it’s always better to reuse it than to use it once and throw it away.

Did You Know?

Backlash Against Biodegradable Bags

Since they started to become popular several years ago, there has been a major backlash against biodegradable bags. Certain studies revealed that they may not degrade as well as advertised, and may even leave toxic chemicals behind. Biodegradable bags also require more raw materials to make and discourage reuseable or recyclable options. Unfortunately, confusion continues over how eco-friendly biodegradable bags are.

To learn more, read these articles from Earth 911 and the American Chemical Society, or watch the video above from NowThis Earth on compostable plastics. Composters from Oregon also provided this helpful breakdown on why they did not accept compostable packaging or serviceware.

PLA Plastic vs. PET Plastic

PET plastic is a petroleum-based plastic while PLA plastic is a bioplastic typically made from fermented plant starch. While PET plastic can be easily recycled, PLA is more difficult to recycle and requires a special facility in order to be composted. Before disposing, avoid contaminating your recycling by double-checking whether your item is PET or PLA and the current disposal instructions for that material.