If you’re considering purchasing biodegradable poop bags for your dog or cat, you want to make sure you’re getting what you expect out of them.
Obviously you care for the environment, but do these pet waste bags really live up to their name?
In this educational guide we run through what biodegradable bags are, what the labelling requirements might be in your country to use the word ‘biodegradable’, and what happens to biodegradable bags after you dispose of them.
We also provide our opinion on whether it’s worth purchasing biodegradable dog waste bags over say their plastic counterparts.
Let’s take a look…
Biodegradable Poop Bags For Dogs: Good, or Bad?
What Are Biodegradable Poop Bags For Dogs?
Biodegradable in it’s basic definition means that the material is made of organic matter (like plant or vegetable resin) so that is can be naturally decomposed and broken down in the environment by natural bacteria and organisms.
Using The Word ‘Biodegradable’ On Labelling, In Marketing, and According To The Standards and Law
It differs from country to country as to which products can use the word ‘biodegradable’.
As a general summary, products labelled as ‘biodegradable’ should meet the standards enforced by laws or guidelines in that country about the word.
If we use America as an example, dog poop bags labelled as biodegradable might have the following requriements:
- Have to meet ASTM D6400 guidelines
- Should meet any legal guidelines which outline how long the bag should take to decompose – generally any material that takes longer than 6 months is not allowed to market their product as ‘biodegradable’
In Europe, the European Standard EN 13432 lays down criteria for what can or cannot be described as compostable and what can be called biodegradable, and the Australian Standard AS4736-2006 is closely based on EN13432. The main difference is the addition of a worm eco-toxicity test.
How Are Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags Different To Degradable and Oxo-Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags?
These bags are different to biodegradable bags in that instead of the material being natural based, it is simply a plastic type bag, like polyethylene, that contains additives that help the bag material break down faster, but still over a number of years.
An example is the EPI additive used in some dog poop bags like the Earth Rated brand.
What Are The Benefits Of Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags?
Buying organic based biodegradable material poop bags will have some of the following benefits:
- You aren’t buying plastic bags
- Plastic bags take an estimated 500-1000 years to break down in the environment via UV light
- Plastic emits toxic micro polymers when it breaks down
- Plastic can get caught inside the airways and organs of animals – choking, injuring or killing them
- You won’t be buying flushable bags – which have their own set of contamination and blockage issues
- You won’t be buying degradable bags which are essentially plastic bags with an additive for quicker breakdown
What Are The Concerns Of Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags – Are They Safe and Environmentally Friendly, or Harmful?
There are two potential issues with using biodegradable bags :
1. The first is that biodegradable materials are usually only effective at decomposition if they have an air supply. If they are trapped under tonnes of land fill, they are either not going to decompose properly due to a lack of air supply, or they might to emit methane – which is more deadly than C02. And landfill sites that accept pet waste is where out dog bags go.
2. The second is that some people within the pet industry argue a bag should not break down quicker than the dog poo itself. Dog poo can contain nasty bacteria, pathogens and other unsafe disease causing organisms which can be dangerous for other dogs and humans. The bags that take a few years to break down will conceal the dog poo for longer – which keeps a barrier between it and any human or animal.
Note that only some and not all landfill sites accept pet waste, and biodegradable bags can’t be recycled.
What Are Some Of The Available Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags? – Best Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags
Three examples of biodegradable type dog poop bags available in 2017 are:
- My Alpha Pet Dog Poop Bags (on Amazon) that are ASTM D6400 Certified (USA) and EN13432 Certified (EU), and break down and decompose in just 90 days.
- Another example are the Bio Bag Premium Pet Waste Bags (on Amazon). In 2017, they are BPI certified to meet the ASTM D6400 specification.
- The Flush Puppies Doodie Bags (on Amazon) also meet the ASTM d6400 standard and California law for “compostability” claims, and are certified compostable by the biodegradable products institute (BPI).
Check these certifications at the time of purchase though because products and standards/laws can change and be updated.
What Are The Alternatives To Flushable Dog Poop Bags?
The dog poop bags you might use an alternative to flushable bags might include:
You might also consider options like pooper scoopers and other scoops in your front and back yard to pick up dog poop.
Should You Consider Flushable Dog Poop Bags?
The theory of biodegradable bags is great. And to be honest, the products available are also pretty good.
So, what’s the problem? … How we dispose plays a major part in the issue with them.
Sending biodegradable poop bags to landfill sites is problematic the way we currently do it (covering the bio material in layers of other waste). Biodegradable materials need oxygen and aeration to be most effective.
If there was more communication and collaboration at a local and state/province based level, it would be great.
Some councils might have disposal initiatives specifically for pet waste, but they seem to be in the very small minority, and inconsistent.
Furthermore, if you have a safe and effective way to let biodegradable poop bags decompose and break down in your back yard (as long as it’s legal) – that would make biodegradable bags perfect for you.
As a final note – although biodegradable bags aren’t currently utilised or disposed of to get their full benefit, it could be said they are still much better for the environment than plastic dog poop bags.
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