Is My Dog Poop Bag Environmentally Friendly?
Let’s face it, carrying dog waste bags to pick up after your furbaby on walks is incredibly responsible… to your neighborhood. Picking up your dog’s droppings is good karma, but wow can it be bad for the environment. Doing the math, a single dog that is walked for every potty break can create up to 28 plastic bags of waste each week. It gets worse when you factor that some dog owners skip the use of micro waste bags on their walks, instead opting to use grocery size bags or any plastic available around the house.
We get it. Plastic is cheap, readily available, and protects any of that naughty from touching the skin. It would be obtuse to suggest that walking with a pooper scooper – good luck running – is the environmentally friendly option. Fortunately, technology has come a long way, with better plastics and plastic alternatives finally coming to market. But what’s the difference between these eco-friendly alternatives? Actually, the difference is quite big indeed…
Two Environmentally Friendly “Poop Bag” Alternatives
ASTM D6954: The first environmentally option comes in dog waste bags that are referred to as being “Oxo-Biodegradable”. To be clear, these bags are still plastic. But they do come with major benefits over typical plastic.
A standard of packaging referred to as ASTM D6954, Oxo-Biodegradable will degrade, and should not release methane during the degrading process. So that’s the good news. The bags however are not entirely biodegradable. Featuring an additive known as EPI, these bags benefit from a plastic material known for fragmenting very quickly. With the help of metal salts, Oxo-Biodegradable bags break down anywhere from 2 to 18 months in a landfill. Awesome!
All sounds pretty good, except that Oxo-Biodegradable doesn’t completely degrade. Instead we are left with microplastics – imagine tiny pellets – that remain behind. These micropellets show up in everything, are digested, and are even found in retail products such as makeup. The environmental impact of the microplastics is still under debate. One study found that, after 24 months, approximately 9% of the bag remains as microplastics.
Most experts agree that, while ASTM D6954 (Oxo-Biodegradable) is a step in the right direction, they do not believe the material is a sustainable solution.
ASTM D6400: Bring on the corn! ASTM D6400 is a compostable plastic alternative usually made from Corn Starch and PBAT. Corn Starch you’ve likely heard of, so let’s take a quick look at PBAT.
PBAT is very biodegradable, and can be composted at home without the creation of any toxic residue. The only drawback to PBAT is that it is an oil based product, therefore building a demand to find another bio-based alternative. Fortunately, PBAT is not the primary ingredient and, in the end, still has limited to no final carbon footprint.
ASTM D6400 bags are 100% biodegradable and compostable, leaving absolutely nothing behind with just the help of oxygen and water.
EN 13432: You might also have seen bags labeled as EN 13432, which is the European equivalent certification of ASTM D6400. Wooflinen poop bags have been certified EN 13432! This certification is the best of the best in regards to being environmentally friendly. In the proper conditions, the bag breaks down in entirety. No left over beads, no nothing. And definitely no plastic.
Certified through TUV Austria, there are three sub-certificates including: OK COMPOST INDUSTRIAL (the equivalent of ASTM D6400), OK COMPOST HOME (even better!) and Seedling. While the sub-certificates can get confusing, know that our bags have been certified for all three. 🙂
ASTM D6400 has to be certified by BPI. The hurdle right now is that BPI refuses to certify bags that will have specific uses. Since pet waste is not accepted at a majority of US Compost Sites, BPI does not certify ASTM D6400 dog waste bags for US based companies. Then why are there dog waste bags with BPI certification? Well, if you are able to purchase ASTM D6400 dog waste bags in states such as California, that is because the seller does not reside in the United States, and was certified with place of business in an outside country. An annoying loophole that we are working on.
It’s an interesting bit of legislation. It would be like losing a tax credit on a fuel efficient vehicle, only if the government found out you liked to go over the speed limit. Doesn’t make much sense, we know.
EN 13432 requires certification from either Din Certo or TUV Austria. Considering that OK COMPOST HOME is a higher grade of certification than ASTM D6400, bags with this certification are allowed to be sold in California as compostable.