When I exposed the Myth of the Biodegradable poop bag in Part 1 and Part 2, a few of you commented about the “fancy marketing”. I am sure a few more of you wondered how a company can label their poop bags biodegradable or compostable when they don’t actually biodegrade in landfills?
“Biodegradable” and “compostable” are terms that can be applied to a product if they meet the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world. They define set standards for tons of products out there and to use certain words to describe your product you must meet those standards.
The standards and designation for both “biodegradable” and “compostable” set forth by ASTM apply to products designed to be composted in municipal and industrial aerobic composting facilities. Makers of the products carrying these labels need to only prove that their product reasonably breaks down under laboratory conditions designed to mimic what happens at commercial composting facilities.
These products, if used in the manner these designations intended, DO what they are supposed to do. The problem is that the end use of these products does not match their intention. Currently, the best way to dispose of dog poop is to bag it and throw it in your trash. Your trash ends up in a landfill and, by design of these landfills, it is robbed of the air and sunlight it needs to bread down (landfills are NOT aerobic environments).
Seattle has curbside yard and food scrap waste pickup that DOES get sent to one of these industrial composing facilities, as do many other Cities around the country. So you may ask why don’t I just put the biodegradable bag in there?
Well, Cedar Grove Compost, Seattle’s regional composting facility, clearly states on their website that pet waste is NOT to be placed in your curbside compost bin. The main reason for this is that the compost produced by this facility is sold to people such as gardeners and farmers to help their flowers and vegetables grow. Pet waste contains harmful bacteria and pathogens that can only be destroyed by high heat. It may be that the temperatures of this composting facility do not consistently reach the high temperatures required to kill the bad stuff and they don’t want anyone getting sick from their product. Or it may be that they just don’t want to take the risk.
So, composting your pet waste in a biodegradable bag at a commercial composting facility as it is intended is out. So what are your other options you may ask? I will explore these options in a future post.
Do you have a curbside commercial composting option? Does that facility state that it will accept pet waste in your cart? I am curious if there is anywhere out there where this practice IS acceptable.