Recycled Plastic vs Compostable Poop Bags
Updated: Jul 20
Smart Bark is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Note from the Editors: Beco Pets are on a mission to create the best possible products for dogs, whilst doing as little harm to the environment as possible. In this Guest Post, Beco Pets share their knowledge on the complicated subject of dog poo bags.
For most dog owners, as much as we love our dogs, we’re also probably all concerned by the ongoing climate crisis surrounding us.
And that raises a question. How do we dispose of our dogs’ poop in an environmentally-friendly fashion?
Traditionally, plastic poop bags have been the only solution, but now there are other materials from which to choose, including compostable, recycled and biodegradable options.
In this article, we’ll look at the differences between recycled plastic and compostable poop bags, and explore whether biodegradable and compostable bags can actually have a bigger carbon ‘paw’ print than traditional plastic bags.
Is Compostable the Same as Recyclable?
You’ll have noticed when looking at the poo bags available out there that there are lots of different claims.
So, firstly, let's look at the difference between compostable and recycled plastic poo bags, because compostable isn’t the same as recyclable (at least, not in the way we typically view recycling).
Compostable bags are made of natural materials such as cornstarch, flax or bamboo, which, under the right conditions, will rot down to become organic matter.
This can be used to enrich soil for growing non-edible plants, and serves as a great way to “recycle” your dog’s waste in a nonconventional way.
Recycled plastic refers to the production of dog poop bags made from post-consumer plastic.
They’re not designed to break down in landfill or by composting, however they’re still preferable to dog poop bags made from new, virgin plastic, as they’re manufactured from existing materials.
Are Compostable Dog Poop Bags Better than Plastic Poop Bags?
The answer is that it depends. Compostable plastic, on the face of it at least, is a better option than plastic, but only when disposed of correctly.
In order for compostable plastic to break down there has to be the correct conditions of heat, water and oxygen (aerobic conditions).
So, if you use a compostable bag, but then throw it into the local dog park’s general purpose bin, then it will end up in landfill where the conditions don’t allow for decomposition.
However if you’re able to compost the bags at home, as intended, then they’re definitely the preferred option.
Pros and Cons
+ Low carbon footprint
+ Better than virgin plastic
+ Easy to dispose of
- Not made from renewables
- Will not decompose
+ Made from renewables
+ Creates use-again compost
- High carbon footprint
- Need a compostor
- Won’t break down in landfill
The compostable bag sounds like the preferred eco-choice, but only if you have the ability to home compost.
As touched upon already, when thrown into landfills these bags won’t break down or biodegrade. In turn, this leads to the creation of methane, a greenhouse gas which is highly damaging to the environment.
The production of compostable bags themselves is also costly to the environment.
Research has found that creating bioplastics also leads to an elevated production of pollutants, due to the chemicals used in growing the crops needed to create the bags.
Unfortunately, recycled plastic is no better, and even those dog poop bags that purport to be biodegradable don’t always degrade.
The reason? For material to biodegrade, it needs aerobic conditions, something which landfill doesn’t provide.
Recycled plastic dog poop bags also leave behind microplastics which find their way into waterways, the sea and into marine life.
Traces of these microplastics have even been found in humans, too, which is certainly a cause for concern.
So, both options have their environmental impacts, however provided that you’re able to compost, this is the dog poop bag option we’d advise going for.
Dog Poop Disposal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
So, are there any other ways to get rid of dog waste in a safe and environmentally-friendly way? Here, we answer some commonly asked questions:
Can I Flush Dog Poop Down the Toilet?
Although it would seem like a sensible solution to getting rid of your dog's waste, it is not permitted to flush dog faeces down the loo. The water treatment process will not eradicate the much higher levels of bacteria found in dog waste.
Can I Flick Dog Poop?
It’s tempting when out in the countryside to simply flick your dog's poop into the undergrowth, however this shouldn’t be done as harmful bacteria and parasites can be dangerous to other wildlife.
Can I Bury the Dog Poop in the Garden?
Dog poop buried deep underground surely can't be harmful, can it? Unfortunately, pathogens like Cryptosporidium, Salmonella and Toxocara Canis are present in dog poop and can enter the soil, and even end up contaminating ponds, lakes and other water sources.
Is Dog Poop OK to Compost?
As an organic substance, dog poop is fully compostable under the right conditions. The compost must reach 73 degrees for at least 5 days in a row to kill off harmful bacteria and the resulting compost should only be used on ornamental, non-edible plants, and not fruit or vegetables.
As you can see the tricky problem of how to get rid of your dog’s waste is not an easy one to solve, despite certain environmental buzzwords being attached to poop bags.
Armed with a bit of knowledge, though, hopefully you can navigate the pet shop shelves and pick up the product that will work best for your situation.
Don’t forget to look for recycled, or better still no, packaging to lessen the impact on the environment.
You might be interested in -