Compostable Packaging Claims Crumble in Mother Earth News Study

Mother Earth News, Natural Home’s sister publication, put compostable packaging claims to the test in a 25-week study. Plastics labeled “biodegradable” and “compostable” often don’t decompose as advertised in regular home composts, and some products don’t decompose at all.

| April 2010 Web

  • Photo By Gretchen Stuart/Courtesy Mother Earth News

More and more companies are displaying the words “biodegradable” and “compostable” on plastic bags and packaging. But without much additional explanation on the products, some companies are getting away with exaggerating their products’ composting capabilities.

With the help of Woods End Laboratories Mother Earth News  put five plastic bags’ claims to the test. Bags from NovamontBioTufBag-To-Nature and Oxo-Biodegradable were composted for 25 weeks in two different composting settings.

One setting simulated commercial, large-scale composting conditions at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The other simulated conditions in average home composts at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The result? None of the bags fully broke down in normal home composting conditions. The Mater-Bi bag from Novamont performed the best in home conditions, and was about halfway degraded at the end of the study.

The Novamont, BioTuf and Bag-To-Nature bags all decomposed in the higher temperature composts, but the Oxo-Biodegradable bags did not begin breaking down at all, even in the higher temperature compost.

Though some companies claims are less-than-truthful, Frito Lay’s SunChips brand gives a clearer definition of its compostable bags’ capabilities. It emphasizes that its packaging will break down in a “hot, active compost bin or pile.” The average home compost doesn’t fit into the category, but the description helps consumers know exactly what they’re buying (and what they’re buying into).

More on plastic bags: 



May 16-17, 2020
Nashville, Tennessee

Join us in Music City to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me