Compostable bags, how do they differ from biodegradable bags?

bolsa basura compostable

Compostable bags are on everyone’s lips, but not everyone knows the characteristics of these bags, would you know how to differentiate them from others such as biodegradable bags?

When we talk about compostable bags, we think of a solution to the pollution caused by plastic bags. But it is an ecological option with very specific characteristics, do you want to know them?

What is a compostable bag?

This type of bag is made from renewable plant-based resources, which means that the raw material of traditional plastic bags is converted into bioplastic.

This results in an exponential reduction of the biodegradation process: Classic plastic bags take around 450 years to decompose naturally, while compostable ones complete this process in as little as 6 months.

Meaning of compostable

When we talk about the term compostable, we are referring to the way plastic biodegrades, and the first thing to know is that not all plastics have the same degradation process.

A product is compostable when it can biodegrade under physical conditions that do not normally occur in the natural environment, which means that compostability is a human process.

This process requires a high level of humidity, high temperatures and a significant presence of oxygen. To better understand this through an example, compostable bags degrade at the same rate as the organic matter they contain.

Differences between compostable and biodegradable bags

The degradation process of a compostable bag is different from that of a biodegradable bag. The fundamental difference is that, unlike compostable bags, biodegradable bags usually disintegrate in nature without the presence of the human factor.

It is a degradation resulting from a biological process of different organisms that takes place under natural environmental conditions. For example, animals and plants process this waste autonomously.

Is compostable or biodegradable synonymous with bioplastics?

Bioplastics are plastics which, in contrast to those made from petroleum, are derived from renewable biomass sources such as fats, vegetables or oils.

There is a wide range of bioplastics. For example, they can be made from acids present in plants such as corn, or they can originate from micro-organisms.

At this point, we should be clear about the relationship between the term bioplastic and compostable or biodegradable: Most bioplastics are biodegradable and compostable, but these two attributes are not necessary for them to be considered bioplastics.

Properties of compostable bags

In many occasions, we are reticent to this type of bags, believing that they are going to provide us with a worse functionality than the usual plastic bags, but analysing the properties of these bags, many prejudices can be left behind

  • Flexibility
  • Resistance
  • Impermeability
  • Tolerance to humidity

In addition to these physical properties, the social advantages of using compostable bags are fundamental to consider their use:

  • They have become a great tool in favour of environmental awareness
  • They represent an ideal alternative to the use of plastic bags in everyday life
  • They reduce environmental pollution globally and in specific points such as streets, beaches and rivers
  • They allow to improve specific areas in terms of sanitation

How to recycle these bags

Once you have decided to opt for compostable bags, make sure you recycle them correctly.

This is carried out in the “organic only” waste bin, so that the bag will become another element to be converted into compost, a product obtained from organic materials subjected to an oxidation process (composting).

If such containers are not available, compostable bags should be disposed of in “residual” bins, thus avoiding metal, paper, plastic or glass containers.

How is compostable packaging regulated?

There is a standard for the compostability of different types of packaging, a framework that is defined by the following requirements:

  1. Composition control to exclude elements that are harmful to the environment, e.g. heavy materials
  2. Assessment of whether 90% degradation has taken place within 6 months
  3. Establishment of a maximum size (less than two square metres)
  4. Determining if the biowaste is suitable for composting

If you are convinced to take the step towards compostable bags, at Monouso we offer a wide range of varieties that adapt to the needs of each client, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality.


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