Traditional Single Use Petrochemical Plastic BagsShould I choose this product? No. Whether it's to line your bin or carry your shopping, it's best to avoid these plastic bags altogether. According to Clean Up, Australians use approximately 5 billion single use plastic bags every year. These bags take a considerable amount of non-renewable resources to produce, including millions of barrels of petroleum, yet they are used on average for just 12 minutes each. These bags will not break down. Instead they disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces. Marine life, birds and other animals are ingesting this plastic, and many become entangled in it.
Degradable or Oxo-Degradable BagsShould I choose this product? No. Any product making this claim you can simply avoid! Degradable or oxo-degradable bags are not truly biodegradable plastics. These bags have chemical additives added to help them break down, and they disintegrate more quickly than standard plastic bags, but they don't disappear completely. Degradable or oxo-degradable bags just degrade into smaller and smaller particles. Perceptually, they kind of trick us into thinking they're not harming the planet, but the plastic is still there, just in tiny particles, or micro-plastics, which as we know is incredibly harmful to our ecosystem. To sum it up, Professor Tony Underwood from the University of Sydney describes degradable plastic bags as:
Not a solution to anything much, unless we are quite happy to shift it all into particle-sized plastics rather than plastic bag-sized plastic.
Biodegradable Bags & Compostable BagsShould I choose this product? Yes, if you need a bin liner, a biodegradable and compostable bag is the best choice, but be sure to choose the product that has certification to back these claims up. Plus, be mindful of what will happen to the bag if it ends up in landfill or our environment. If you are using the bag to collect scraps for composting at home, then the bag also needs to be certified home compostable. Something is biodegradable and compostable if living things such as fungi and bacteria can break it down in the environment. Biodegradable and compostable bags are made from plant-based materials like cornstarch and wheat as opposed to petroleum. Our BioBags in particular are made from an ingredient called Mater-Bi, which consists of corn starch, biodegradable and compostable polyester and vegetable oil. These bags contain no polyethylene and completely biodegrade in the right conditions after 10-45 days. They are best used for collecting food waste for home composting or your worm farm as they help to contain waste, reduce smells, stop mould growth and keep your bin clean. It is important to take note of the abovementioned 'right conditions' biodegradable and compostable bags require in order to break down. The temperature needs to reach 50 degrees celsius, and the bag needs to be exposed to UV light. Now this doesn't happen in wheelie bins and it doesn't happen in the ocean. If you are using biodegradable and compostable bags to contain general waste or household rubbish, be mindful of the fact that once it is all sent to landfill, the bag will behave like the rubbish it is containing. In landfill biodegradable and compostable bags will break down a lot more slowly than they would in your home composting system, and they will break down without oxygen, producing methane, a greenhouse gas much more dangerous than carbon dioxide. Biodegradable bags do not break down in marine environments at all. Plus they still look like a jellyfish to a turtle, so can be just as harmful as traditional plastic bags if they are disposed of thoughtlessly. When considering biodegradable and compostable bags, it is important to look for certification. At present, certified compostable is the most reliable certification as it is regulated and internationally agreed upon. Companies make unsubstantiated claims about biodegradable products all the time, and the ACCC recently took action against Woolworths for misleading biodegradability and compostability claims (2). Certification schemes are a way for companies to substantiate their claims with scientific data and demonstrate the environmental responsibility of their products. All BioBag bags are biodegradable and certified home compostable according to the European Standard EN 13432, the US Standard ASTM D6400 and the Australian Standard AS 4736. BioBag holds biodegradable and compostable certificates issued by several certification institutions including AIB Vincotte (OK Compost), DIN Certco, BPI (USA) as well as other specialized certifications such as the GMO-free certificate. BioBag compostable bags are the best option for lining your bin with. Shop BioBag here > So when it comes to lining your bin to contain rubbish that is destined for landfill, using newspaper or no bag at all is the best option. But if you still prefer to use a plastic bin liner, avoid degradable bags and choose a certified compostable plastic bag. If you are using a bag to collect food scraps for your compost at home, choose a bag that is certified home compostable.
Further Reading (1) www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/7-insane-facts-about-plastic-bags/ (2) www.smh.com.au/national/watchdog-whacks-woolies-for-allegedly-false-biodegradability-claims-20180302-p4z2h5.html www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/plastic-bags-whats-difference-between-degradable-compostable-and-biodegradable/ treadingmyownpath.com/2018/03/22/biodegradable-plastic-is-it-really-eco-friendly/