It can be difficult for the individual consumer to find out what the difference is between the various waste bags offered for sorting the organic waste in the kitchen. When sorting the organic waste, the most optimal solution will be to sort in a compostable bag that can compost with the waste. The green refuse bags are 100% biodegradable. The only things they leave behind are water, CO2 and humus – and the alternative to biobags would not be good for our nature.

By: Kjell Ivar Bache, CEO BioBag, kib@biobagworld.com

We must be glad that the use of plastic has been added to the agenda this year. Our enormous use of plastic has a massive effect on our planet and our climate. The huge plastic pollution means that 700 marine species are threatened. Environmental groups fear that 100 000 marine mammals and turtles and 1000 000 sea birds die every year due to plastic pollution. If we continue with this development, in 2050, there will potentially be 12 billion tonnes of plastic ending up in the environment. The problem with non-biodegradable plastic is that plastic accumulates in the environment. Biodegradable plastic combats an accumulation of plastic.

It is fortunate that there are alternatives to traditional plastic bags. The green biobags used in many large cities across Europe are one of these options. These are produced in accordance with the exact rules that describe how biodegradable bags should be produced. Regulations that have been established in the European Standard EN-13432. Unfortunately, it shows that it is not easy to understand the concepts of the different bags. A compostable and biodegradable bag is something completely different to a normal plastic bag.

Compostable and biodegradable bags are comprised of different materials. These types of plastic are partially made of fossil material. The proportion of biological material increases steadily and in some raw materials comprise more than 80%. Most of these types of plastic should ideally end up as compost, but in small amounts can be reused with other types of plastic. At the end of its lifetime, compostable and biodegradable plastic does not add microplastic to the environment.

Will the green refuse bags create microplastic?

The green biobags used in Copenhagen and other large cities can be composted and they will not release microplastic if they ends in nature. There are no other types of plastic that can give this guarantee. The bags are also broken down biologically if the end up in the marine environment. The biobags are made of compostable and biodegradable polymers. It is important to emphasize that this is not traditional plastic, but a biodegradable polymer. Biodegradable polymers have nothing to do with traditional polymers because biodegradable polymers are eaten by micro-organisms in the soil.

We use fossil-based biodegradable polymers partly because we need to make a biobag that solves the problem of collecting food waste as well as being an economic solution for the Municipality. We need to reach the specification that meet the user’s wishes and match the price on the bag. If Municipality choose a traditional plastic bag for sorting household waste, this will cause challenges with microplastics in the digestive/compost (the remainder after biological treatment), that is created from the food waste.

Today it is not possible to produce a compostable biobag for the collection of food waste without a fossil content. The alternative to a compostable bag is a traditional plastic bag made of 100% fossil content.

Our biobags are primarily produced out of biologically degradable and compostable polyester, vegetable oils and starch. These can be combined in various amounts to achieve a higher or lower fossil content. A certified compostable product contains a modified polyester that is digestible by micro-organisms. The relative amount of fossil material can be high or low. It is still edible for microorganisms and thus 100% biodegradable and does not leave microplastic behind. The only things left behind are water, CO2 and humus.

If biodegradable parts of the biobags are left with the food waste, there will be no harmful material present. That can happen if a traditional bag is used instead for the collection of food waste. The small parts of the plastic waste bag can end up as pollutants of the ground in the form of microplastic. Therefore, a compostable and biodegradable biobag is always the optimal solution for the collection of food waste.

When you use a certified compostable and biodegradable bag, there is a guarantee that no microplastic will get into the soil.

This is the reason that the colour of the waste bag is no joke. They are just as green as they look.

Green refuse bags are just as green as they look