Biodegradable Shopping Bags - How Long to Decompose?

Biodegradable Shopping Bags - How Long to Decompose?
5 min read
03 March 2023

Using biodegradable bags can help you save money and the environment, but you may be wondering how long these bags will decompose. In this article, we will examine some of the factors to consider when purchasing biodegradable or compostable shopping bags. This includes whether they are recyclable, if they can be recycled, and if they can be used as compost. Also, we'll explore the environmental and social benefits of using biodegradable bags.

Compostable bags

Compostable bags are a great way to dispose of your organic waste. Unlike ordinary plastic bags, compostable trash bags break down into a natural product, returning 10% of their weight back to the soil as compost. But how long does it take for compostable trash bags to decompose?

The answer is largely dependent on where you live. Biodegradable plastic bags can take three to six months to fully decompose. It depends on whether the material is exposed to sunlight, air, and moisture. Typically, industrial composting facilities have a controlled temperature of 50degC or more, allowing for faster breakdown.

Home composting, however, can be a more gradual process. While it does not require the same high temperatures, it does still take between three and six months for your compost to decompose. If you have a large amount of material to compost, you may want to consider an industrial composting facility.

Biodegradable trash bags can be used for food scraps, yard waste, and other types of compost. They will decompose faster than typical plastic bags.

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Marine environment

Most biodegradable plastics can only break down in aerobic conditions. This is why they do not decompose in the marine environment. But there is a growing concern about plastic pollution in the sea.

Biodegradable bags are considered a potential solution. Although their decomposition is expected to occur, the exact effects on the marine environment need to be evaluated. BPs can become a source of pollutants, and their impacts may be unpredictably unpredictable. Therefore, they should be matched to the right applications.

In order to determine their impact, studies should be performed in different environments. One study by Imogen Napper, a research fellow, tested conventional and compostable bags. Both were exposed to three different environments. They were placed in an open air environment, a soil environment, and an underwater environment.

The study showed that conventional plastics kept their original form after three years, while the compostable bag largely disintegrated after nine months. However, the oxo-biodegradable bag was still intact after 27 months.

Metallic Tyvek Bags


Soil environment

Biodegradable bags are designed to break down in an environmental environment. This means they can be composted, landfilled, or left for other organisms to break them down. However, this is not a guaranteed process. It can take hundreds of years for biodegradable bags to fully decompose.

Researchers at the University of Plymouth studied five common types of plastic bags. They placed them in four different environments: water, soil, air, and ocean. The study also measured the chemical and physical properties of the bags.

Biodegradable bags were found to be much more resistant to deterioration in the soil and ocean environments than in the air and water. When buried in the soil, the biodegradable bags remained intact for 27 months. By comparison, it took nine months for all types of plastic bags to disintegrate.

The study's findings were published in Environmental Science and Technology. The researchers say the study poses questions about the suitability of biodegradable carrier bags.

Landfill environment

Biodegradable trash bags can break down if they are properly disposed of. However, this can be tricky. There are a few key factors to consider.

The first is that biodegradable bags can only break down in certain environments. In order to be fully decomposed, they need to be placed in an environment with a high level of oxygen and moisture. This makes them unsuitable for use in landfills.

They are also not recyclable. Many biodegradable plastic bags contain compounds that slowly degrade in the presence of light. These are often toxic chemicals that can harm the environment.

Some critics claim that the term "biodegradable" is used loosely and does not mean that the product is fully decomposed in a specific time frame. If you are concerned about this, make sure to read the bag's label before buying.

Another issue with these bags is that they can release a dangerous greenhouse gas called methane. Methane is twenty-two times more potent than CO2. Unlike plant-based materials, plastic bags will not break down in a natural environment.

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