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What’s the difference between compostable bags and regular plastic bags?

What’s the difference between compostable bags and regular plastic bags?

Plastics have become an indispensable part of modern life, but their environmental impact is a massive concern. As the fight against plastic pollution increases, there's a growing interest in more sustainable alternatives and eco-friendly products.

If you’re looking to replace your regular plastic bags with green bags, then consider compostable bags. Unlike traditional plastics, which are derived from fossil fuels, biodegradable plastic bags utilise resources that can be replenished.

We go a few steps further to ensure you’re getting a green bag when you use Ecopack compostable bin liners. Some bioplastic packaging is biodegradable, some is compostable…but the best biodegradable bags are both! Ecopack compostable bin liners stand out as an eco-friendly solution because they’re biodegradable bags that are made with GMO-free corn starch and certified for both home and commercial composting.

Composition of compostable bags vs plastic bags

Regular plastics are typically derived from petroleum or natural gas through a process called polymerization. These plastics, such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are known for their durability and longevity. However, they are non-biodegradable, meaning they persist in the environment for hundreds to thousands of years.

Compostable bags, on the other hand, are made with renewable resources such as corn starch, sugarcane, or cellulose plus Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Polybutylene Adipate Terephthalate (PBAT), which is added to to enhance their mechanical properties and biodegradability. These materials undergo a similar polymerization process but result in plastics that biodegrade under specific conditions. Compostable bin bags can break down into natural elements like carbon dioxide, water, and biomass when subjected to the composting process facilitated by microorganisms.

Environmental impact of plastic production

The environmental impact of plastic bags is well-documented. Their non-biodegradable nature means they accumulate in landfills, oceans, and other ecosystems, posing threats to wildlife and human health. Additionally, the production of regular plastics relies heavily on fossil fuels, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbating climate change.

Compostable bioplastics offer a more promising environmental profile. Since they are derived from renewable resources, their production involves fewer carbon emissions. Furthermore, their ability to biodegrade offers a solution to our plastic problem. When composted in industrial facilities or home composting systems, compostable bags and their organic content can break down into harmless substances, reducing the burden on landfills and the environment.

Challenges and considerations when choosing compostable bags

While biodegradable plastic bags hold promise as an environmentally friendly alternative to regular plastic bags, several considerations need to be addressed. Firstly, not all bioplastics are compostable, and confusion between biodegradable and compostable plastics can lead to improper disposal and contamination of composting streams.

When choosing a compostable bag or compostable consumables (such as takeaway cups, ziplock bags, or cling film) make sure you select a trusted brand that uses certified compostable material. Note that some products that are advertised as “compostable” may only compost in a commercial facility. The end-of-life disposal needs to match the products’ intended waste stream. Rest assured, that when you purchase Ecopack compostable bags and products, you’re buying something that’s been well developed, tested and certified for both home and commercial composting.

Additionally, the production of compostable bioplastics may still involve energy-intensive processes and the use of agricultural land. As such, the sustainability of compostable plastic bags depends on ethical feedstock sourcing, production methods, and end-of-life management practices.

The best biodegradable bin liners

If you’re looking for a smart, sustainable alternative to plastic rubbish bags, Ecopack compostable bin liners are a solid choice. Using our compostable bags offers has the potential to mitigate environmental pollution and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Ecopack offers a comprehensive range suitable for home and commercial environments – with every bin size covered from extra small bench-top compost caddies, through to bin bags for communal offices, and even extra large wheelie bin compostable bags.

Ecopack supports the drive for improved labelling, investment in composting infrastructure, and public education to help promote the proper consumption and disposal of compostable bioplastics. By utilising renewable resources and facilitating composting, we believe that compostable bags represent a step towards a more sustainable and circular economy.

Next article What should I line my compost bin with?