Plastic…Part 9…Biodegradable and Compostable bags?

Welcome to this weeks post on plastic…It is week 9 already and so much info on plastic it is unreal…

coloured plastic bags blowing in the wind

Photo credit: European Parliament on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

I am trying really hard to dispense with plastic in the home and I have gone a good way forward to doing that but some things cause for radical changes for example ” The freezer” I freeze fruit, some meat and if I make extra of a dish then I freeze in portions …Therein lies the problem for me…

Do I use biodegradable bags or compostable bags?

How can we be sure biodegradable bags are really eco-friendly? Are they the same as degradable plastic bags?

There are independent certification schemes you can look out for that give you peace of mind about the claims being made. But it means that you must do your research…

We will start with your kitchen bin…

Of course, the most eco-friendly answer is don’t line your bin…Which means that you must separate all your compostables,. recyclables and general waste…Of course, if you recycle and compost as much as you can you will find that you will have less waste.

If you must line your bin then check you are using a certified biodegradable or certified compostable bag instead of traditional plastic bags ( no more) using any plastic bags which you bring your shopping home in unless they are certified or those labelled degradable.

So you have checked your bags out and lined your bin…That’s alright then …Isn’t it? No!

Why? Because if you are filling those bags with general/household waste then once it gets to the landfill site the bag will break down or not according to what rubbish is inside the bag so all your efforts checking that your bags are certified will have gone to waste…If you are using biodegradable and compostable bags to contain general waste or household rubbish, be mindful of the fact that once it is all sent to landfill, the bag will behave like the rubbish it is containing. In a landfill site, biodegradable and compostable bags will break down a lot more slowly than they would in your home composting system, and they will break down without oxygen, producing methane, a greenhouse gas much more dangerous than carbon dioxide.

Biodegradable plastic bags…

Quite simply, something is biodegradable when living things, for example, fungi or bacteria, can break it down. Biodegradable bags are made from natural plant-based materials like corn and wheat starch rather than petroleum. However, when it comes to this kind of plastic, there are certain conditions required for the bag to begin to break down and biodegrade.

Firstly, temperatures need to reach 50 degrees Celsius. Secondly, the bag needs to be exposed to UV light. In an oceanic environment, this is highly unlikely to happen. Plus, as I have stated above if biodegradable bags are sent to landfill, they break down without oxygen to produce methane, a greenhouse gas far more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Degradable plastic bags…

Degradable items, unlike Biodegradable bags, are not broken down by living organisms so cannot be classed as biodegradable or compostable. Instead, the bags contain chemical additives used in the production of the plastic which allows the bag to break down quicker than a standard plastic bag usually would.

Which means bags advertised as degradable’ are definitely not beneficial, and can even be worse for the environment! Degradable bags that disintegrate just become tinier and tinier pieces of microplastic quicker, which as we know poses serious threats to marine life.

Microplastics enter the food chain lower down, getting eaten by smaller species and then continuing to make their way up the food chain as these smaller species are consumed. A situation which is highlighted very frequently in the news most recently the victims being gray whales.

Compostable plastic bags…

The word ‘compostable’ is incredibly misleading for the average consumer. You’d think a bag labelled as compostable would mean you could throw it in your backyard compost alongside your fruit and veggie scraps, right? Wrong. Compostable bags biodegrade, but only under certain conditions.

Compostable bags need to be composted in a specific composting facility, Compostable bags are generally made from plant material that returns to base organic components when processed by these facilities, but the problem lies in the fact there are thus far only 150 of these facilities Australia wide.

However, it seems that with the changing of consumer attitudes commercially many countries are struggling as current commercial plants cannot deal with all the different types of plastic …

As a consumer based on this, I am making a concerted effort to avoid as much plastic as I can in my own home,,,

Home Freezing for me one of the hardest to change…Here is a good article about using mason jars as storage in the freezer…Something I haven’t tried yet…Have you?

Dog poo bags? 

dog photo

Photo credit: flowcomm on / CC BY

It seems that whatever bag you use not many cities accept them once used due to cross contamination…

I think bags are much like plastic bottles when I reviewed they have a long way to go until recycling is available and effective within a short timescale…

Until then I will do the best I can given the circumstances of disposal available…

Thank you so much for reading this post If you have any thoughts please add a comment I always respond xxx

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there will be more on this on my blog this year

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

More and more of my blogging friends have joined me on MeWe…A social media site which is fairly new and which promises much without the restrictions some other social media sites are choosing to impose on many of us…Join me if you will on 


Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:

Connect to Carol



Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week xx











38 thoughts on “Plastic…Part 9…Biodegradable and Compostable bags?

  1. Ellen Hawley

    The newspaper we get has just started using cornstarch bags for the magazine inserts. I was delighted. Now you tell me compostable doesn’t actually mean I can compost it. Arghhhhhhhh.

    And with that out of the way, thanks for letting me know. In spite of the yelling, I do appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: CarolCooks2…Weekly Roundup…Butterfly Pea Tea, Plastic Bags, | Retired? No one told me!

  3. Pingback: Waste not! Want Not!… India plants 66 Million Trees… | Retired? No one told me!

      1. macjam47

        It is, but no different from trying to decipher anything on labels. With the changes recently made, labels are getting better, but there is still a long way to go on everything we buy and use.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Adele Marie

    It is a minefield out there for the consumer, but these posts, Carol, are pulling our resources and doing great work. What I came across this week was the problem of blister packs. If you, like me, are on medication every day then you can accumulate a lot of blister packs. We’ve been sorting them into our plastic waste but they don’t recycle them. So went online to see if anyone did, yes, a company in America does and they had a British site. It costs £123 sterling to buy a small box to put them in, then post it back when full. I can’t afford this, Carol, I wonder if anyone has heard of another way? xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Wow that is extortionate, Adele I will ask the question on my next post we shouldn’t have to pay to recycle certainly not that much I will ask the question in my next post and see if I can find a cheaper alternative xxx But well done you for trying xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Plastic…Part 9…Biodegradable and Compostable bags? Shared by Creating My Odyssey – artist/writer/steampunk & ghost nut/traveller/renaissance soul/mental health & lifestyle blogger – Site Tit

  6. Alethea Kehas

    Hi Carol, Another great blog on plastic. I have not used mason jars in the freezer, but I have used glass containers with the rubber lids. They work great for sauces and beans. Have not tried them for other things yet…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. CarolCooks2 Post author

        No, we can’t I have to import anything like that unless I can get anyone to bring them for me when they visit. I will check them out though as sometimes you get people who import certain items and if I have a name and brand it is easier to search so thank you 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Sandra J

    Great article. I am getting rid of plastic also. I went back to glass for all cups, dishes storage containers, etc. I still use freezer bags, but, like Jacquie said above. I reuse them over and over for fruit and vegetables. I wash them when necessary to use again. Not if they had meat in them, but for freezing meat I leave it in the original packaging and put my reusable freezer bag over it. I will look into using glass mason jars for freezing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Yes the freezer is the most difficult I think and jars take up more room especially if you only have a small freezer we have get inventive don’t we? Thank you Sandra for your ideas 🙂 x



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