biodegradable vs compostable plastic bags

Release time:2023-09-22 Number of views: 34

Biodegradable vs Compostable Plastic Bags: Understanding the Difference and Making Sustainable Choices


In today's world, where we are witnessing the adverse effects of plastic pollution on our environment, it has become crucial to opt for more sustainable alternatives. Plastic bags, in particular, have gained significant attention due to their harmful impact on ecosystems. Biodegradable and compostable plastic bags are often marketed as eco-friendly options, but what is the difference between the two? Let's delve deeper into this topic to understand the distinction and make informed choices for a better future.

Biodegradable Plastic Bags

Biodegradable plastic bags are designed to break down naturally in the environment with the help of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. These bags can degrade into smaller pieces, but they do not completely disappear. They leave behind microplastics, which contaminate soil and water. Although they might degrade faster compared to traditional plastics, the process can still take several years, depending on various factors such as temperature and exposure to sunlight.

Compostable Plastic Bags

On the other hand, compostable plastic bags are specifically made to decompose into nutrient-rich compost within a specific time frame and under certain conditions. These bags require a composting facility to break down properly. They are typically made from plant-based materials like cornstarch or biodegradable polymers. Compostable bags can be used for collecting organic waste, and they will break down into non-toxic components during the composting process.

Understanding the Distinction

The key difference between biodegradable and compostable plastic bags lies in the end result of their decomposition process. Biodegradable bags may leave behind harmful microplastics, while compostable bags break down completely into beneficial compost. The compost obtained from compostable bags can be used to enrich soil and support plant growth.

Environmental Impact

Both biodegradable and compostable plastic bags have advantages over traditional plastic bags. They reduce the usage of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases during production. However, the environmental impact of these bags highly depends on their proper disposal. Biodegradable bags should be properly disposed of in landfills dedicated to them, as they require specific conditions to decompose effectively. Compostable bags, on the other hand, are better suited for industrial composting facilities where they can decompose efficiently in a controlled environment.

Making Sustainable Choices

When it comes to choosing between biodegradable and compostable plastic bags, it is essential to consider the intended purpose and disposal options. Biodegradable bags are suitable for everyday single-use applications and can be recycled along with other plastic waste. However, compostable bags are more suitable for organic waste collection and industrial composting. It is important to note that compostable bags should not be mixed with regular plastic waste as they may contaminate the recycling stream.


In the battle against plastic pollution, choosing the right alternative is crucial. Both biodegradable and compostable plastic bags offer benefits over traditional plastic bags, but each comes with its own set of considerations. Biodegradable bags degrade over time and leave behind microplastics, while compostable bags break down fully, providing nutrient-rich compost. Understanding the difference and making informed choices can help us move towards a more sustainable future. Let us embrace these alternatives and contribute to the conservation of our environment, one plastic bag at a time.