Many people believe using biodegradable and compostable bags are better to use than regular plastic bags. However, all of them end up at the landfill.
Biodegradable plastic bags contain tiny organisms to help break down the plastic bag. But it takes years for it to breakdown, and it doesn’t do it completely. That means pieces of plastic will remain.
As a result, biodegradable plastic bags are handled the same way as regular plastic bags at the compost facility. The bags get ripped open and separated from its content that includes food scraps, tissues, and paper towel. Those food and paper items go for composting, while the plastic bag goes to landfill.
Degradable bags are mostly oil-based and they break down through chemical reactions rather than organically by microorganisms. Degradable products do not break down completely and turn into organic material, instead they break apart into microscopic pieces which can still affect the environment.
Using a compostable bag is better than using a biodegradable bag. It is made from natural plant materials and will slowly degrade in the environment. However, they do not break down in our composting system. They are separated out from the organics and are sent to landfill for disposal.
We encourage residents to give a second life to plastic bags in their homes such as produce bags, bread bags and cereal liners. If residents want to purchase a compostable or biodegradable bag, we suggest the compostable bag is a better option. Using plastic as a bagging option for your food scraps is just one of many. If you are currently using paper products such as cereal box, newspaper, paper bags, etc. and it works for you, please continue.