Many of you will have seen this study making the rounds over the last few days, so we thought we’d take the time to explain a bit more about it.

Firstly, the headline is quite misleading, the “biodegradable” bag which was fully intact was an oxo-degradable bag.  For those unaware of this product, it is a great example of producers jumping on the green bandwagon with a product that offers no real environmental benefit yet is marketed as one. Oxo-degradables are standard plastics with an additive which causes them to rapidly fragment – thereby converting a plastic product into a microplastic!  Needless to say, we do not stock any of this material and the EU has brought in legislation to ban it. 

The true test was with the bag labelled as compostable which conformed to EN13432 and Dincertco standards.  This bag had started to breakdown and could not hold any weight, had it been left for longer (or ideally been in an actual compost heap), it would certainly have continued to breakdown completely, leaving no harmful residues. The study showed that these bags are doing what they are designed for, even in conditions unfavourable to composting. These types of bags have been used for years in food caddies and other applications, they are known to fully breakdown in composting sites (burying something is not composting) and there is no concern about their persistence in the environment. 

The study has also shed light on the distinction we all need to make between “biodegradable” and “compostable”.  Anything labelled compostable usually conforms to EN13432/ Dincertco standards mentioned above.  “Biodegradable” is an ambiguous term that carries no industry standard, a fully compostable bag is biodegradable, but technically so is a house if you leave it for long enough.

Thankfully in the last year, consumer knowledge has greatly increased on this topic, more and more of the general public are able to make this distinction and challenge those companies that sell biodegradable products without anything to back up the claims.   We hope to continue down this path and help educate and inform as many people as we can in making the right decision when it comes to sustainable packaging.