So you really want to do the right thing for the environment and you want to purchase a dog waste bag that is 100% compostable, but with all the different buzz words printed on the packaging, how do you know which product will completely break down and be good for the environment?

It can be tricky as many companies want to jump on the “eco-friendly” bandwagon even though their products are quite the opposite. And why would these companies lie about such a thing? To charge more money of course! Taking advantage of the higher price point, a plastic bag can be marketed to seem like an eco-friendly option, allowing the company to charge you more and at the same time give you a false sense of being environmentally responsible.

There is a very important difference between plastic and compostable bags. Although they can look and feel similar, plastic is derived from fossil fuels and releases toxins as it slowly degrades; Compostable bags are made from a combination of synthesized and organic plant matter (such as PLA, cellulose films, and starch blends) that will completely break down in a commercial composter within a matter of months and its components will safely be absorbed into the natural environment.

In just the past few years, a large number of truly compostable dog waste bags have come on the market, although they are still mostly sold online and none of the major chains seem to carry them.

But don’t worry, this article will help you avoid the fakes, spot the legits, and choose from ten compostable dog waste bag products that you can purchase today!

First off, the following terms MEAN NOTHING:

  • Natural
  • Organic
  • Earth Friendly
  • Eco Friendly
  • Green

The following terms have some meaning, but ARE DECEITFUL:

‘Biodegradable’ is not a highly regulated term. What it basically means is that the bag will break down in a short amount of time (although no time limit is set) and its basic elements will return to nature (although there’s no standardized test to see if any residue is left over and if it causes any toxic effects on the environment). Doesn’t really tell you much.

If the bag is labeled recycled then it is definitely made of plastic. To make a “recycled” plastic bag, the plastic has to be melted down and mixed with virgin plastic resin. It still uses up resources and outputs pollution. Furthermore, the bag cannot be recycled a second time. Once it’s filled with poop, it’s only option is to be sent to the landfill.

This was the plastic industry’s attempt to make plastic bags seem biodegradable. Basically chemical additives (often called EPI) are used to make plastic bags disintegrate way faster as long as oxygen is present. The problem? The toxic plastic is just breaking down quicker into microscopic-sized pieces, “microplastics”, that can easily be blown through the air, into our oceans, and into the mouths of wildlife… and humans as well.

Compostable dog waste bags are actually all bioplastics, but not all bioplastics are compostable. Why? Well the term bioplastics can actually be applied to two separate things: the biodegradable plastics that are indeed compostable, and then bio-based plastic which only requires some of its makeup to be derived from biological matter. So while it’s not an evil word per say, you can’t trust it.

Surely the term “Compostable” means that it is truly compostable, right?

Well, sort of. Let me explain….

There are some companies out there (some with good intentions, some with bad) that will label their products compostable but not go through the proper channels to get it certified. Without a certification, there are a couple of risks: 1) Only a certain percentage of the bag is compostable 2) The bag causes unhealthy effects on the environment as it decomposes 3) The bag takes too long to break down and will eventually be sifted out and trashed.

A true compostable dog waste bag must pass an industry standard test to prove its claims.

The following logos guarantee the bag is TRULY COMPOSTABLE:

Note: It MUST have one of the logos printed on the packaging or on the bag itself.

BPI logo
The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) logo, means it has been certified under american industry standard (products certified ASTM 6400)
Seedling Logo
This graphic representing a seedling of this particular seedling means complies with European Industry Standard (products certified EN 13432)

Note: If the certification number below starts with “AS”, it is the Australian equivalent

Ok Compost/TUV Austria
The Ok Compost graphic accompanied by the TUV Austria logo (either “home” or “industrial”) complies with Austrian Industry Standard

Note: TUV stands for Technischer Überwachungsverein (english: Technical Inspection Association)

If a product displays any of these logos, that means it passed a series of tests to earn an official compostable certification. While the testing methods may vary slightly by country, the basics to obtain each certification is as follows:
  • The bag must be 100% made from plant-based materials
  • A majority of the bag must fully break down in a commercial composter within 180 days
  • The bag must NOT cause any toxic effects on the compost or surrounding plants

Now that you know what to look for, you’ll be able to find the key identifiers that are used to distinguish between the following compostable bags and those that are the fakers!

Dog Waste Bags that are TRULY COMPOSTABLE:

Bags that seem eco-friendly, but are NOT COMPOSTABLE:

Now you’re probably wondering, if I don’t have a company in my town that will compost pet waste, does it even matter?

My answer is yes, VERY MUCH.

I’m a full believer in that when you spend your money, you are voting ‘Yes’. You are directly supporting that company and its product and making a vote that that company should continue to exist and expand. If more and more dog owners switch over to purchasing compostable bags, the manufacturing of those bags could be made cheaper. Compostable bags for pet waste stations at apartments and parks can become cheaper, and the positive votes for composting could transform the entire pet waste industry! Your dollar and where you spend it means A LOT.

What Dog Waste Bags are Truly Compostable? (and how to tell)