Have you ever thought about where the waste from your home will end up as you're taking the trash out? You’re not alone. However, once the trash is in the bin or out to the road for pickup, few people give it a second thought.
What Happens to Plastic Trash Bags?
In the United States, 313.8 million people use traditional plastic trash liners (Statista Research Department). The problem with traditional plastic trash liners is that they can take up to 1,000 years to break down and when they do they break down they turn into microplastics (ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng).
Rain can wash these microplastics into the streams, lakes, rivers, or oceans around them and into the soil. Over the long run, these microplastics and end up harming animals, fish, and make their way into human food leading health problems. Learn more about the impact of plastics on our ocean and what you can do to help here.
Alternatives to Plastic Trash Bags
Biodegradable or compostable trash bags can be a better alternative. But shopping for these products and working to determine what is best can be confusing. Not all biodegradable bags are created equal.
Some biodegradable bags may say biodegradable, eliciting thoughts of nature or plant-based, but are actually made from biodegradable plastics. Typically, biodegradable plastic liners are petroleum-based liners that will break down faster than traditional plastic bags in some environment’s conditions.
Some bags are also marketed as “oxo-degradable”. This means that the product will break down in the air. Living organisms, such as bacteria or fungi, are not involved in breakdown of these bags. These bags are generally plastic based meaning that they will break down more quickly, but what remains is still plastic.
Another type of biodegradable bag is bioplastic. Bioplastic bags are usually made of plant-based and renewable materials like corn, vegetable oils, grains, corn starch, potato starch, or sugarcane. Bioplastics are free of toxins such as BPA (bisphenol A).
Compostable Bags take biodegradable to the next level. Like biodegradable bags, compostable bags will fully break down to natural elements but have a tighter time frame to do so. For a product to be certified compostable, the bags must meet certain criteria, so looking for bags that have certifications to back up their claims is very important.
It’s important to note that compostable bags are intended to be composted and not used to recycle or sent to landfills. If sent to landfills, compostable bags can realize higher amounts of methane gas into the environment which can contribute to global warming (EPA.gov).
Compostable bags should be composted in home composters, compost bins, or at an industrial composting facility that can take care of the bags.
beyondGREEN’s Trash Liners
beyondGREEN’s plant-based trash liners are made from a certified blend of biopolymers and are designed to decompose within 3 to 6 months once disposed of properly. These bags are completely chemical-free and are unscented, however, they have a natural 'popcorn' smell to them as the bags are manufactured using corn byproducts.