Good Question, right?
Have you noticed that when you walk the aisles of your fave pet store or browse online that dog poop bags have started turning green? Not magically turning green, but literally they are manufacturing poop bags as "green" and making them from green colored plastic.
It's no coincidence, dog poop bags are a huge source of pollution (even though they are a necessary evil) and manufacturers are looking for ways to combat the negative side effects on our planet as well as enter into the green-marketing space.
What you probably didn't know is that even though your poop bag is green colored, labeled "earth-friendly" or "planet-friendly", this bag is NOT compostable or biodegradable unless it has an official certification. Meaning it won't innocently disappear into invisible matter in a few months but instead will break down into an invisible danger know as *dun, dun dun*, microplastic. Major bummer, right?
So what's the deal with the green poop bags?
How can you know if one is biodegradable and actually earth-friendly?
Why are they labeled as biodegradable or "earth-friendly" if they are still made from plastic?
First, earth-friendly is a subjective term. It's all about how the creator believes the product is benefiting or protecting the earth, which may or may not align with what the end-user believes is "earth-friendly". That's why manufacturers can say poop bags are earth-friendly even if made from plastic or harmful materials. They can say this because just the bag itself is in fact helping the earth by preventing dog waste from entering our soil and waterways and spreading disease. That alone can constitute the product being eco-friendly or earth-friendly and allow them to market it as such. So it's not realllllly a lie, but a bit of a stretch depending on your personal standards.
How can you tell if a dog waste bag is biodegradable?
Many of these bags come with a certification or classification, you should be looking for something from the American Society for Testing and Materials, or another accredited organization.
For example, this one brand on Amazon states their product is "Eco friendly: 100% oxo-biodegradable, complies with ASTM D695-04". This means the product has been created using a standard from the independent group (mentioned above) to allow the plastic product to biodegrade. As long as the manufacturer has followed that standard, it should work. This allows a plastic dog waste bag to be earth-friendly. interesting, right?
Sounds like a bunch of witchcraft to us, tbh, but it's worth learning about.
We did some research so you don't have to and checked out the standards on the website for the American Society for Testing and Materials. They work to regulate and standardize health and safety standards for manufacturing materials and the after-effects of doing so. It's not witchcraft actually, it's science, so that's cool.
Learn more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OXO-biodegradation
Let us be clear, these products with this standard alignment allow the plastic poo bag to biodegrade under specific conditions where oxygen is present. This isn't a false claim. They can biodegrade and break down through oxidization into unrecognizable pieces and due to the special way they are made, micro-organisms and salts in the soil can break down the final pieces of plastic residue.
This could leave you asking.. "So, does that mean there is no micro-plastic?".
While we're not scientists, we did find an article that challenged if oxo-biodegradable plastics like these ASTM-D695-04 poop bags would or would not leave micro-plastics behind. Basically, some groups say yes, others say no.
This our friends is where we'll take a pause and leave you with the answer to the question. Are green poop bags biodegradable? Answer: Only if they're certified to be. Will they still leave micro-plastics behind? Maybe. Is using ANY poop bag a good choice to prevent disease and pollute waterways? Yes.
Keep fighting the good fight!
XX - V & Fly