With single-use plastics coming increasingly under fire, brands are looking for materials that will make their products appear ‘greener’ to the consumer. As a result, there’s often confusion (sometimes intentionally so) regarding terminology such as compostable, biodegradable, oxo- degradable, and degradable. At the extreme end, this translates to consumers being misled by unsubstantiated ‘green’ marketing claims.
Here at Little Green Dog, full transparency for our customers and the public regarding what we do and the products we make is critical to our mission. We originally started our business in response to the misleading claims from other ‘biodegradable’ poop bag companies, and since our launch, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about the difference between our bags and alternatives you usually see on store shelves.
This post aims to answer many of those questions by looking at the difference between home and industrial compost and by outlining how to determine if your product is actually certified — or if it’s being green-washed. Let’s dive in!
When it comes to composting, heat is usually the most important ingredient. And when it comes to industrial composting, you need a lot of it.
Industrially compostable items (such as compostable coffee cups and utensils) are generally thicker and contain greater amounts of compostable material. They require higher temperatures (around 70°C) in order to break down within a reasonable time frame (usually 90% degradation in 90 days).
Industrially compostable products can hold a few certifications. The table below shows New Zealand-recognised international standards.
Being home compost-certified is a much more difficult status to attain, as the product has to break down in a more natural backyard compost setting. Home-compostable products are generally made from thinner materials, like our dog poop bags or other compostable plastic-free films. They usually require somewhere around 20°C to 30°C to break down, and they’re given a longer time period to do so (usually 90% degradation in 365 days).
As with industrial composting certifications, there are a few New Zealand-recognised international standards (shown in the table below).
How can you tell if a product is certified?
Short answer: they’ll be proud to show it off. You should ask any company that claims to be compostable for a copy of their certification, and you should be very skeptical of any company that claims a certain eco-friendliness without being able to back it up.
There are a few registered compost standards, and each of these has a specific registration number below it that corresponds with the holder of that certificate. Each product will say which certification program it’s been tested by and certified under.
To double-check a company’s claims, you can look publicly for their certificates via the below links.
- For AS5810-certified products: https://www.bioplastics.org.au/certification/who-is-certified-in-aus-nz/
- For TUV-certified products: http://www.tuv-at.be/certified-products/
- For DIN CERTCO-certified products: https://www.dincertco.tuv.com/?locale=en
For transparency, Little Green Dog’s EN13432 certification number is 7P2277, and our TUV home compost certification is S1069.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
There are some incredible claims out there from other poop bag producers about the eco-friendliness of their products. On a quick search, you’ll see people quoting landfill breakdown in six months, backyard composting in as little as 90 days, and even plastic bags that break down in an ocean environment. If you see people quoting things like this without a certification to back it up, they’re most likely lying.