Biodegradable Garbage Bags? How to Replace Your Non-Biodegradable Garbage Bags Easily

So you’ve done the right thing and brought your reusable bag to the grocery store?  

Thankfully, you’ve made a great decision to help the earth! Now you have a new problem…the plastic bags that you once used from the grocery store to line your bins as the non biodegradable garbage bags have run out and you need a new solution to dispose of your garbage.  

The most eco-friendly bags are the ones YOU DON’T NEED!  So while reducing our waste is our first priority, the reality is that most of us will still produce some kind of waste and need a greener way to dispose of it. 

Biodegradable garbage bags are a great solution to this problem and do not require a huge change in behavior, but there are a few TIPS to consider before going the greener route.  

It is important to choose a bag that is NOT ONLY biodegradable but also compostable These words are often used interchangeably but do have nuanced differences. It is important to note that garbage bags that are solely biodegradable WILL still release toxic plastics into the soil. See our FAQ for the full explanation of this important distinction.  

Although biodegradable plastic has been around since 1926 when it was first invented by Maurice Lemoigne, it is only recently that biodegradable garbage bags and compostable garbage bags are making their way onto mainstream shelves.  

We’ve looked at a BUNCH of biodegradable and compostable garbage bags and have come up with the best options for around your home. Plus, we’ve included a best practices section and an FAQ section to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your biodegradable garbage bags.  

What you NEED TO KNOW to make the switch easily? 

Best Practices

(Click to Read the Answer)

Have more questions about biodegradable and compostable plastics? Take a look at our FAQ section below or contact us so that we can help you and others find the answer.    

10 Best Biodegradable Garbage Bags by Size/Use

Size/UseBest Options (click for full review)Buy(Click to BUY NOW)
Curbside Large Bags#1 Reli. Biodegradable Trash Bags
#2 SUPERBIO Compostable
Tall Bin Kitchen Bags# 1 UNI 100% Compostable Bags
#2 Green Earth 13 Gallon Kitchen Bags
Green Earth
Small Bin Bags#1  Ayotee Unscented Compostable
#2 Inwaysin 4 Gallon compostable
Small Food Scraps Compost Bags#1 GREENER WALKER 25% Extra Thick
#2 GreFusion Compostable for Kitchen
Greener Walker
Doggy Poop Bags#1 ATIFBOP Biodegradable Dog Poop
#2 Codirom Compostable Dog Poop
Atif Bop

Although some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission for suggesting them, we have done our best to suggest only the best quality out there. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases with the links provided in this article. In no way does this affect our description or review of their products.  

Best Biodegradable Garbage Bags for Curbside

#1  Reli Biodegradable Can Liners

Size45 Gallon
Made from Bioplastics
Compostable or Biodegradable?Biodegradable
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?Yes.
Made InChina
Time to Decompose24 – 36 months
Best For…Amassing household trash for curbside pickup
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?No
AvoidUsing them as yard waste compost Using them with pointy objects

The RELI biodegradable garbage bags made our list because of their capacity and durability. Although they are made from bioplastics, a combination of polyethylene and plant-based materials, in the proper environment they can biodegrade in 24-36 months. This far beats the traditional non biodegradable garbage bag which can take up to 1000 years to degrade.

The bags are perforated for an easy tear-off of the coreless roll. Each button has a star seal design created to prevent leaks and improve carrying capacity. We found that they are best to amass the household waste from smaller bins and they can easily accommodate many bags from the house.

We also liked this brand because they sell in a mega pack of 250 bags, making it very affordable and more of a once-a-year type purchase.

Make sure that if you’re discarding broken glass or anything pointy, that it is first wrapped in newspaper. These bags are not intended for branches or sharp objects and WILL tear!

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#2 Superbio Large Biodegradable Compost Bags

Size33 Gallon
Made from ONLY plant based
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?No
Compostable or Biodegradable?compostable
Made InChina
Time to Decompose180 days
Best For…Curbside pick up or Yard Waste
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?Yes
AvoidStoring in sunlight or heat

Not as large as the RELI brand, the 33 Gallon Superbio is the perfect size for my family. These bags are great for a family that actively recycles and composts. They can easily amass the household waste from every room, or be used as a liner for the compostable green bin.

If you can do with a smaller bag for household pick up, these are even better than the RELI because of the fact that they are FULLY compostable and will break down entirely into hummus, water, and CO2 after only 180 days in a compost pile. They are a far cry from non biodegradable garbage bags!

They are great because they can withstand waste for over a week while we wait for pickup, this is NOT the case with many other brands we have looked at which leave a compost-like soup at the bottom of the bin and decompose too quickly for all intents and purposes.

Superbio has received awards for the quality of the bags as well as their level of compostability. They carry the certification US ASTM D6400 standard and the EU EN 13432 standard which require that biodegradable/compostable products completely decompose in a composting setting in a specific time frame, leaving no harmful residues behind.

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Best Biodegradable Garbage Bags for Tall Kitchen Bins

#1 Uni Tall Biodegradable Kitchen Bags

Size13 Gallon
Made from Plant Starches
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?No
Compostable or Biodegradable?Compostable
Made InChina
Time to Decompose60-90 days
Best For…Kitchen cans
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?Yes
AvoidWet and liquid wastePurchasing more than a 9 month supply

These bags are great for tall kitchen canisters. They are thicker than we were expecting and flexible enough to hold a good amount of waste, just make sure you leave enough room at the top to tie it together. They are strong enough to hold kitty litter too!

We love how the bags are made with 100% plant-based starches which makes them fully compostable. If we leave garbage in the bags for too long (like 2-3 weeks), with the heat, they will start to decompose. It is also best to make sure that overly wet waste is drained first before disposing of it.

Another plus is that the Uni bags are easy to take off of the roll and also easy to open and do not require wet or tacky fingers. These will make switching from non biodegradable garbage bags easy!

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#2 Green Earth Compostable Tall Kitchen Bags

Size13 Gallon
Made from Plants
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?No
Compostable or Biodegradable?Compostable 
Made InChina
Time to DecomposeStart to decompose in 7 days
Best For…Kitchen Bins
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?Yes
AvoidKeeping garbage in them for over a week…they will start to break down

Another great compostable option for your kitchen waste! Green Earth makes a few different sizes of bags available, but this is the thickest of the bunch, coming in at 1 mm in thickness. This bag won out many of its competitors when it comes to thickness.

The Green Earth Compostable bags stand up to a full garbage load, just make sure to leave some room at the top to tie it once it’s full. Tears or early decomposition are rare unless you forget to wrap your sharp objects in a newspaper or leave too many liquids at the bottom. If you compost, recycle, and use the garbage, one bag should last a family of four about a week or more.

Make sure to use them within one year of buying them, they will start to break down naturally making them less durable than they are when they are new! Handling biodegradable garbage bags is a little different than non biodegradable garbage bags!

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Best Biodegradable Garbage Bags for Small Bins 

#1 AYOTEE Biodegradable Small Bin Bags

Size4 Gallon
Made from Plant Starch Only
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?No
Compostable or Biodegradable?Compostable
Made InChina
Time to Decompose180 Days
Best For…Small waste bins and large composters
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?Yes
AvoidOverloading them.Tearing them apart can be tedious

These Ayotee transparent blue bags are perfect to line your office, bathroom, and bedroom bins.  They are sturdy enough for anything you may throw into them, and if the contents are dry, the bag will not begin to decompose while in use.  Ayotee bags can also easily be used for kitty litter. 

The box is well designed so that it can easily be hung for easy-pull access to the bags when needed.  They are fully compostable and can easily be thrown into a home composter due to their ASTM D6400 PSM certification.  

Ayotee bags seem just as thick and sturdy as non biodegradable garbage bags are, it is only when thrown into a composter that you can actually see how well they work for their intended purpose of decomposition!

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#2 Inwaysin Small Bin Biodegradable Bag

Size4 Gallon
Made from Corn Starch
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?No
Compostable or Biodegradable?Compostable
Made InChina
Time to Decompose12-24 months
Best For…Small Bins:  bedroom, office, bathroom
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?No
AvoidKeeping them for longer than 9-12 months.Home composters as they are not ASTM D6400 PSM certified

Inwaysin bags are fully compostable and thicker than the competition, but since they are not ASTM D6400 PSM certified, we wouldn’t recommend them in your home composter.  

The company says that they can hold up to 8kg of waste, but we only tested them for the bedroom, office, and bathroom bins which are much lighter, and they hold up great!

They work well for kitty litter as well as paper and bathroom waste alike, very similar in use to non biodegradable garbage bags.  

Make sure that if you put anything sharp inside them that you wrap it in newspaper first, they can tear with sharp objects.  

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Best Biodegradable Garbage Bags for Small Food Scraps & Compost

#1 Greener Walker Small Compost Bags

Size1.6 Gallon 
Made from Corn Starch
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?No
Compostable or Biodegradable?Compostable 
Made InChina
Time to DecomposeUnknown
Best For…Small waste like kitchen compost
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?Yes
AvoidKeeping them for longer than 18 months

These bags are the perfect size and strength for kitchen food scraps. They are stronger than other bags on the market and hold up well to wet waste such as food. These may work a little too well! Some customers complain that they take too long to decompose in the household composter, but from our research, this can differ from person to person based on temperature, moisture, and compost handling techniques such as stirring. They are a world away from non biodegradable garbage bags.

They are very sturdy and reliable for about 3-4 days of collecting waste before having to replace the bag due to decomposition. They seem to resist tears and holes well. Most of their customers end up being repeat customers.

They carry the EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI certifications and can safely be composted at home.

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#2 GreFusion Compostable Trash Bags

Size1.2 Gallon
Made from Plant Starch Material
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?No.
Compostable or Biodegradable?Yes
Made InChina
Time to Decompose Fully30-90 days
Best For…Kitchen composters 
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?Yes
AvoidStoring them for longer than 12 monthsUsing them longer than 3 days for kitchen compost

These bags are sturdy and work well according to GreFusion’s instructions. They are well crafted, peel apart easily, and will not start to decompose within the 3 first days of use (as directed by the company.) Be sure to change your bin liner often to avoid leaking and the premature stages of decomposition.

They are EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI certified, meaning that they can be safely composted at home and will break down into hummus, water, and CO2. They can withstand a lot of weight, but if you know that you will produce an unusually heavy amount of waste, it may be best to double up on the bags.

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Best Biodegradable Garbage Bags for Doggy Poo Bags

#1 ATIFBOP Biodegradable Doggy Poo Bags

SizeFor large dogs7.75 x 5.27 x 5.03 inches
Made from EPI+HDPE
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?Yes
Compostable or Biodegradable?Biodegradable
Made InChina
Time to Decompose2 yrs.
Best For…Dog Poo
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?No. 
AvoidBackyard composters.  

These bags work well to protect your hands during pick-up due to their thicker composition and non-porous plastic. They are one of the few examples that we are suggesting that do indeed have plastic in them, even though they will decompose in 2 yrs in ideal conditions.

They are biodegradable, but not compostable, meaning you should not be including them in your backyard composter. They are much better than using non biodegradable garbage bags for doggy poo.

They are easier than most bags when it comes to separating them and peeling them open. They come in convenient little rolls that fit easily in a pocket or on a leash.

Most of the doggy poo bags that we came across were scented for obvious reasons. While this is not entirely necessary, some do prefer to use unscented smaller compost bags to avoid the potential added chemicals used for scent.

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#2 Codirom Doggy Poo Compostable Bags

SizeFor large dogs9 x 13 inches
Made from Plant based materials
Contains Plastic/Polyethylene?No
Compostable or Biodegradable?Compostable 
Made InChina
Time to Decompose90-180 days
Best For…Dog waste
Carry EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI Certification?Yes
AvoidHome compostersTearing them off the roll quickly

These bags are unscented and are one of the few fully compostable bags for dog poo. They are a little thin, but get the job done! We liked how they fit easily into a bag holder and are sold in small rolls, easy to carry for walks.

These bags are unscented, which is perfect for anyone that is trying to avoid the additional chemicals that are added to scented bags.

Although these bags do have the EN13432 & ASTM D6400 BPI certification the label does state that it is best in commercial composters rather than home composters. They are better than non biodegradable garbage bags and the company says that the degradation process can be significantly shortened in composting facilities. Also, take your time tearing them off the roll quickly, many people have complained of rips when they rip too quickly.

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Best Practices for Biodegradable Garbage Bags

How to handle and store biodegradable garbage bags effectively?

Biodegradable and compostable garbage bags should be handled differently than regular plastic bags. They should always be stored in a place away from moisture, heat, and light. They will last significantly longer if stored under these conditions.

Most of the manufacturers will post a shelf-life disclaimer on the bags varying from 6-18 months depending on the thickness and composition of the bag. 

Biodegradable and compostable bags should also be changed regularly, a task that you may not be used to with regular plastic bags. They work very well for their intended purposes and WILL start to degrade in YOUR WASTEBASKET!  

How long can I leave my waste in a biodegradable garbage bag?

The recommended amount of time for biodegradable and compostable garbage bags to have waste in them varies from 3 to 5 days depending on the type of bag and the type of waste. 

Kitchen compost compostable bags should really only have waste in them for a maximum of three days. Any longer, and you will realize that they will start to decompose within your bin. 

Waste in bathrooms and bedrooms can contain waist for longer periods due to the nature of the waste itself. 

What makes the most sturdy biodegradable garbage bag?

The most sturdy bags that we have come across are made differently than regular plastic bags. Some of the sturdiest biodegradable and compostable bags have a star-shaped or octagonal bottom that makes the bag sturdier and able to withstand more weight. 

What is the estimated time frame for the decomposition of biodegradable plastic bags?

Biodegradable plastic bags can take a lot longer to decompose than compostable bags. The biodegradable garbage bags that we have come across can take anywhere from 18 months to two years to decompose. Users that have experienced the decomposition of biodegradable garbage bags first-hand have found that they can take even longer than this.

Compostable bags, on the other hand, can take a lot less time to decompose. From the bags that we have recommended, most compostable bags take anywhere from 3 to 12 months to decompose in a home composter under ideal circumstances. Decomposition will vary depending on the temperature, moisture, and tending of the compost pile. 

Should I put biodegradable plastic garbage bags into my home composter?

Biodegradable plastic garbage bags should not go in home composters. The reason for this exists in the fact that when the plastic bag biodegrades, it releases small plastic particles into the soil. This can create toxins in your soil which is not conducive to garden compost for garden beds and lawns.  

Biodegradable garbage bags that are listed as compostable, can be safely composted in a home composter. These bags will only release hummus, water, and CO2. The byproduct of compostable garbage bags can easily be used as fertilizer for a garden or a lawn.

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FAQ for Biodegradable Garbage Bags

The difference between biodegradable and compostable bags?

While all biodegradable materials are also compostable, not all biodegradable products are. In contrast to compostable materials, which decompose into a single organic substance called humus, biodegradable products break down into a few different and not always natural components.

Compostable bags are created from organic materials or plants that disintegrate over time. Examples include maize starch, bagasse, PVAL/PVOH, and others. Compostable bags break down into humus, the richest and most significant component of all soils. Humus’ significant microbial activity promotes beneficial bacteria in the soil, which helps plants develop their immune systems. As a result, compostable bags do not release any hazardous elements into the environment following decomposition.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) defines biodegradables as “anything that degrades due to the activity of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungus, and algae.” Although the term “rapid” is not defined, biodegradable items degrade in far less time than non-biodegradable products such as plastic. Biodegradation can take a few days (for vegetable scraps) to 500 years or more (for a plastic bag). It is possible to obtain biodegradable items that are created from petroleum-based polymers that decompose more quickly than those made from plant-based ingredients (such as plants, corn oil, or starch).

Biodegradable materials can take months to decompose compared to the composting process, and some recent research has indicated that some of these products disintegrate to leave harmful waste behind. That said, the majority of “biodegradable” consumer goods won’t truly break down naturally in the environment. They require a certain set of circumstances, which are produced during the composting process, to biodegrade.

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Paper bag or compostable plastic bag…which one is better for food scraps?

Ashley Ponce, Editor of The Ordinary Hippie and Sustainable Living Advocate, tells us that compostable bags are made up of natural plant materials allowing them to fully break down in a reasonable time frame. They can also be used in your backyard compost or industrial compost. But not all compostable bags can be used in your home compost, so be sure to check the label before purchasing. 

Paper bags are the old-school option, being one of the first compostable bags that could be used. You can reuse the brown paper bags from your grocery trip, making them a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option. Wondering about that colorful, handled bag from your favorite boutique? You will have to find another way to reuse them. To be compostable, paper bags need to be made with brown, porous paper, water or soy-based ink, and starch-based adhesives. 

So which is better? It comes down to cost, accessibility, and personal preference. Both options break down well in composts and avoid releasing toxins and microplastics into the environment. Paper bags may be more accessible and cheaper, but compostable bags may require less effort to confirm that they are compost safe. Choose the option that makes the most sense for your sustainability journey. 

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What are most biodegradable (compostable) garbage bags made out of?  

To understand what biodegradable and compostable trash bags are made of, it helps to understand the differences between the two similar terms, says Kristen of Earth Friendly Tips. Biodegradable means something is capable of being broken down by the action of living things (ex.- bacteria or microorganisms), although no time frame is required for how long this takes. Compostable means an item will break down into something that can be used as compost once it fully decays, typically within 3 or 4 months. 

Compostable trash bags are typically made from plants, most often corn or potatoes. Since there’s a lot of greenwashing in the compostable bag industry, it’s always important to look for the compostable logo from BPI in the U.S., which indicates the product meets ASTM D6400 standards.

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Do biodegradable (non-compostable) plastic bags contain plastic?  

Kristen, Environmentalist and Editor of Earth Friendly Tips explains that usually, biodegradable trash bags are made with bioplastics, which are a blend of petroleum-based plastics and plant-based materials, such as corn, sugarcane, or grains. So the quick answer is ‘yes’, biodegradable (not compostable) bags do contain polyethylene/plastic.  

Are recycled garbage bags eco-friendly?

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If you are just beginning your eco-journey to being more environmentally conscious, choosing a recycled garbage bag is better than your traditional run-of-the-mill plastic bag. A recycled bag means that a portion of the contents of the bag is produced with recycled plastic. Beware of companies that tout that they are entirely made from recycled plastic, most of the time, this is not the case. 

Unfortunately, recycled plastic bags will not break down easily in landfills and could last for hundreds of years or more. They only benefit the planet by not having to extract additional fossil fuels for the production of plastic bags.  

In our opinion, recycled plastic is best used for items with more longevity, such as park benches, roads, playground equipment…etc. Not for single-use items such as plastic bags.  

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Do biodegradable bags break down in a landfill?

Ashley Ponce, Editor of The Ordinary Hippie and Sustainable Living Advocate, tells us that landfills are designed to be airtight, making them anaerobic and causing waste to mummify instead of decomposing. Organic materials cannot break down without sufficient oxygen. There are examples of organic materials, such as carrots, being well-preserved, and buried deep within landfills, 40 years after their disposal! 

See this picture from the Science Center in Toronto Canada that shows how waste is just compounded in landfills. Rather than decompose, waste is piled on top of each new shipment, denying the ability for oxygen to help break it down.  

Here is an image of waste that was disposed of in 1993. The oxygen has been removed to demonstrate what happens to waste in a landfill when a lack of oxygen cannot penetrate for decomposition.  

But can biodegradable bags help this? While biodegradable bags may eventually break down, it may still be hundreds of years before they can break down in a landfill. They are also still plastic bags, just with additives to help them biodegrade. When they do break down, toxins and microplastics are released into the environment. 

Unfortunately, the combination of a landfill, with an unregulated product (that ultimately damages the environment when it does break down), means that biodegradable bags are not the best environmental solution for our waste, compostable options are a much better choice.  

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Next Steps

You’ve made a great decision to make the switch to biodegradable bags. Every time and again, you may find that the bags are defective or rip easily. Do not get discouraged, and make sure to return the product for a refund. Many times, machinery may tear bags in the packaging process.  

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce the plastic around your home, try reading our article on How to ReduceYour Plastic at Home.  

Also, we found some great eco-friendly items on Amazon that have helped to make our home and the planet greener. Take a look at our best finds!

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11 Responses

  1. If only more people made the switch. I do hope you will reach many and intice them to make better decisions for our world! Thank you 🙂

  2. This is a great collection of information on what everyone needs to know about biodegradable garbage bags. Thanks for putting it together!

  3. This is very informative. Here in NYC plastic bags are banned (finally). It is interesting and glad to learn that biodegradable garbage bags are available. I hope these BD garbage bags will be mandated by government officials across the world.

  4. We use compostable bags for some trash cans in our house but I had no idea there were so many options. Awesome!

  5. Very informative. It’s nice to know that biodegradable garbage bags are available 🙂

  6. Just what I needed as I make my home “greener” and cleaner for my family. Thanks!

  7. This is interesting, I don’t know a lot about the both. So, I will learn about these things before switching. Thank you for sharing these tips and information!

  8. Avatar Whitney Stewart says:

    This is so awesome! I reuse those Walmart sacks for those small waste baskets in the bathroom, but that’s about all I do to. These sacks would take things to a new level! Thank you for sharing these with us!

  9. I care about the earth and going green but have never thought about using biodegradable garbage bags, but this reading definitely gives me something to think about. I also had absolutely no clue that bags that are solely biodegradable still release toxins, wow.

  10. This is so interesting! I had no idea that biodegradable doesn’t automatically mean compostable! I’ll need to look out which of these are available here in the UK!

  11. Avatar Dominique says:

    Thank you for providing insights on the time frame for biodegradable bags. I had no idea before today


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