top of page
  • Writer's pictureValinda

Eco-Conscious Cleanup: The 15+ Best Compostable and Low-Waste Trash Bags

Updated: Jan 20

Jump to

As we become more aware that we shouldn’t use so much plastic in our daily lives, companies accommodate this shift in demand. This means that the number of biodegradable and compostable trash bags has grown significantly in recent years. These bags seem like a good alternative to conventional plastic bags as this would mean that the trash that ends up in landfills will break down faster. However, eco-friendly trash bags made from bioplastic is not the perfect solution but it is a great step in the right direction.

Do we need trash bags?

Ideally, we shouldn’t need trash bags at all because the most eco-friendly trash bag is the one we don’t use. There is enough waste in the world already. Research has shown that the average person in the USA produces close to 5 pounds of trash each day. Everything that is thrown away uses resources and even more so when it is moved around a lot before it is disposed of. By paying more attention before we purchase we avoid producing a lot of trash and therefore also avoid using lots of trash bags. Also being more selective about the packaging of the products you buy, by composting or package-free grocery shopping helps greatly way in reducing the amount of trash you generate. As producing some trash is almost unavoidable due to the consumerism society we live in. We need some form of trash bags in our lives but we want these to be as eco-friendly as possible.

Can a Trash Bag Be Eco-Friendly?

There are lots of different types of trash bags available and not all of them are made with the same materials which mean that some trash bags are more eco-friendly compared to others because of the materials used to make the trash bags. The most common ones are made of plastic and take centuries to break down into microplastics. It is also made from a fossil fuel which is very polluting to mine.


Eco-friendly trash bags are made of plant-based materials or recycled materials (often plastic). Plant-based materials produce fewer greenhouse gasses and less toxic waste that can leach into soils.

Even though recycled plastic bags break down similarly to virgin plastic, fewer virgin resources are required and support the market for recycled plastic, which can help reduce our overall waste problem.


We as consumers want to support companies that make an effort into making their business less demanding on our planet. Choose a brand that is known to invest in reducing the amount of energy usage at company facilities (like buildings and manufacturing plants) and reusing materials that used to be considered waste.


What happens to our trash bags after they end up in the trash depends on the materials used to produce the bag and how waste facilities handle this trash. While eco-friendly trash bags made from recycled plastic reduce the impact during the production process, their end-of-life options aren’t better compared to traditional trash bags as it is still plastic that ends up in landfills.

Eco-friendly trash bags made from plant-based materials break down faster and return nutrients to the soil during breakdown.

However, if you put trash bags made from plant-based material in the regular trash, it negates nearly all of the beneficial impact of making them from plant-based materials. This is because organic matter only decomposes naturally when it has access to oxygen and water during the process. Without oxygen, organic matter (like plant-based trash bags) decomposes and generates methane, a greenhouse gas that is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. So, don’t put organic matter in regular trash as it is extremely polluting for our planet.

Biodegradable vs Compostable Trash Bags

Lots of companies claim their eco-friendly trash bags are either compostable or biodegradable. However, there’s a big difference between these two terms.


Compostable is a regulated term which means it will break down within a defined period and become an element of usable compost (i.e. soil amendment) without the release of toxic compounds.

According to the United States Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (“FTC’s Green Guides”), something is compostable if “the item will break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (e.g., soil-conditioning material, mulch) in a safe and timely manner (i.e., in approximately the same time as the materials with which it is composted) in an appropriate composting facility, or a home compost pile or device.”

Something should fully decompose like regular food and yard waste. For most of us with backyard compost, this means that the item should break down in less than a year.


Biodegradable can be a confusing term as it is not regulated and there are no clear universal definitions.

As a rule of thumb, every plant-based, animal-based, or natural-mineral-based product is biodegradable. For a product or material to be considered truly biodegradable it should quickly break down into harmless particles with no human intervention. “Quickly” is a bit vague, but anything up to a year is usually satisfactory. If it takes more time, it’s degradable, but not biodegradable.

Another aspect to consider is how well can a material break down. For instance, plant-based plastic is usually considered biodegradable. While it can break down naturally, it relies heavily on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity levels. In unsuitable conditions, it will lose its ability to degrade quickly and will be as harmful to the environment as regular plastic.

15+ Eco-Friendly Trash Bags that are Compostable or Low Waste

Important Certification for Eco-Friendly Trash Bags

Eco-friendly trash bags all have certain labels claiming how earth-friendly they are. However, not all of the labels out there are real and require certification. So, which certifications are important, and what should we look out for?

ASTM International Standards

ASTM is an international standard-setting organization that offers third-party certifications for thousands of products and processes. ASTM D6400 for Compostable Plastics is a common standard used by many eco-friendly trash bag companies.

The full name is ASTM D6400: Standard Specification for Labeling of Plastics Designed to be Aerobically Composted in Municipal or Industrial Facilities. The certification tests and confirms if a product made from plastics will compost satisfactorily, at a rate comparable to known compostable materials. They test if both disintegration (physical breakdown) and biodegradation/compost production (chemical breakdown) occur within 180 days. It also requires that the end product does not harm the surrounding ecosystem.

Please be aware that it specifically addresses aerobic decomposition in a municipal or industrial facility (not a backyard compost system where conditions may be sub-optimal for breakdown). Some eco-friendly trash bags will specifically note when they are compostable only in an industrial facility or when they also break down in a backyard or home compost system.

Biodegradable Products Institute Certification

The Biodegradable Products Institute is one of the largest in North America and offers certification for compostable products. They work with independent laboratories to perform their certifications based on the ASTM D6400 criteria above.

These certifications are often noted as “BPI” certifications and generally mean the same as the ASTM D6400 standard for compostability.

OK Compost from TUV Austria

TUV Austria is the European equivalent of BPI. They have several green certifications related to compostability including OK Compost Industrial and OK Compost Home. The OK Compost Industrial mark is equivalent to the BPI certification, meaning it will decompose in an industrial facility.

OK Compost Home, however, is a certification that claims that a product will also break down in a home composting system. They consider the lower temperatures and suboptimal conditions in your garden compost.

Each of these certifications helps to prove that an eco-friendly trash bag meets the requirements to decompose under the right conditions and is helpful when comparing brands when shopping for compostable trash bags.

What to use instead of plastic trash bags?

There are lots of options as an alternative to plastic trash bags that many simply don’t consider. Most simple purchase trash bags as the most convenient option but there are lots of alternatives as well.

Plastic bags

It should be better to avoid plastic in the first place or, if possible, recycle plastic bags as many grocery stores accept soft plastics for recycling. If this is not an option, upcycle plastic bags that are destined for the landfill anyway and use them as trash bags.

Upcycled Newspaper Bags

For those of us who still receive a physical newspaper or can get old newspapers from a neighbor or a local business, get creative and transform a newspaper into a paper liner for your trash bag.

Reusable trash bags

This is a bit of an advanced option but if you don’t mind having loose trash, reusable trash bags are a great option. After you dump your trash in your big bin outside, you can machine wash them to use again and again.

If you are handy with a sewing machine, you can even make them yourself as at this moment, there are not many options available for reusable trash bags.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bag brands

Nowadays, there are lots of eco-friendly trash bags available. They come in different sizes, made from different materials, and with different certifications. Below you can find some amazing eco-friendly trash bag brands.

Plant-based Trash Bags


  • Size: 13 Gallon

  • Material: Bioplastics derived from the starches of plants, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers

  • Certifications: ASTM D6400

  • Home Compostable: No

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

These eco-friendly kitchen bags are compostable and help you reduce your household's need for plastic. These bags are great if you have a large compost bin.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - Biobag


  • Size: 3 - 5 Gallon

  • Material: plant-based biopolymers

  • Certification: USDA, TUV OK HOME Compost, OK Compost Industrial

  • Home Compostable: Yes

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

With BeyondGreen’s trash liners, your trash gives back. These sustainable, leak-proof, non-GMO, chemical-free, trash liners are produced with the planet in mind and decompose in three to six months. Because these eco-friendly trash bags are crafted from corn by-products, they smell like popcorn!

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - beyondgreen


  • Size: 2.5 gallons to 64 gallons

  • Material: Compostable plastics

  • Certification: ASTM D6400, BPI

  • Home Compostable: No

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

Stouts eco-friendly compostable bags are fully compostable and sturdy. The manufacturer claims these bags will degrade in 10 to 45 days depending on conditions and in less than six months in commercial composting facilities.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - stout


  • Size: 13 Gallon

  • Material: Corn and vegetable starch

  • Certification: BPI-, ASTM D6400 and Austria TUV-certified

  • Home Compostable: Yes

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

Primode 100% Compostable Trash Bags are stronger compared to other fully-compostable brands in this size.

Made from corn and vegetable starch, which means that these bags are safe for home composting as well as municipal and industrial facilities to compost.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - primode


  • Size: 12" x 7" x 17"

  • Material: Paper

  • Certification: -

  • Home Compostable: Yes

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

Paper bags are a great compostable and recyclable option for trash bags. Even though they are not waterproof they are a great option for lining your trash can. your recycling can.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - duro


  • Size: 2,6 - 8 gallon

  • Material: plant starch

  • Certification: BPI-, ASTM D6400-, OK Compost Home- and TUV-certified

  • Home Compostable: Yes

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

Unni’s 100% Compostable Trash and Compost bags are an excellent choice when you need a bag smaller for small food scraps as they earn top ratings for durability. Made from plant starches and safe to compost at home.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - unni


  • Size: 30 gallon

  • Material: brown paper

  • Certification: -

  • Home Compostable: Yes

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

These heavy-duty brown paper bags from Lowe are double-walled for added sturdiness. They have a flat bottom that helps them stand upright for easy loading.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - lowe

Garden V Pro

  • Size: 8 Gallon

  • Material: plant-derived resin, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers

  • Certification: Austria TUV-certified

  • Home Compostable: Yes

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

These are one of the few black biodegradable trash bags on the market today. These eco-friendly trash bags are made from plant-derived resin, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers that hold in the odors.

Note that not all compost facilities accept black bags.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - garden v pro


  • Size: 2,6 - 30 gallon

  • Material: Plant-based polymers

  • Certification: BPI- and OK Compost Home-certified

  • Home Compostable: Yes

  • Industrial Compostable: Yes

These eco-friendly trash bags from Biook have it all. Size options, color options, and fully backyard compostable make it a great eco-friendly choice as a trash bag.

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags - biook