Bags: Compostable Plastic

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Info on this product category: Bags: Compostable Plastic


Only use compostable bags for compost. Compostables in the landfill release methane, a polluting greenhouse gas that can lead to climate change.

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Criteria for Bags: Compostable Plastic

  1. Must be certified compostable by a third-party independent verification entity such as the Biodegradable Products Institute or BPI, proving that the finished product meets ASTM D6400 standards of compostability.
  2. Must not contain additives that include highly hazardous chemicals, including but not limited to: persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals; very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) chemicals; carcinogens; mutagens; reproductive toxins.
  3. Must not contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), or polyurethane (PU).
  4. Must not have been manufactured with chlorine or chlorine compounds.
  5. Must be readily and easily identifiable as compostable and conform to the minimum standards of the California labeling law (Public Resources Code Section 42355 et seq.) which states:
    1. Labeled with a certification logo indicating the bag meets the ASTM D6400 standard specification if the bag has been certified as meeting that standard by a recognized third-party independent verification.
    2. Labeled in accordance with one of the following:
      1. The bag is made of a uniform color of green and labeled with the word "compostable" on one side of the bag, and the label shall be at least one inch in height.
      2. Labeled with the word "compostable" on both sides of the bag and the label shall be one of the following:
      3. Green color lettering at least one inch in height.
      4. Within a contrasting green color band of at least one inch in height on both sides of the bag with color contrasting lettering of at least one-half inch in height.
    3. Notwithstanding paragraph (B) of subdivision (ii), if the bag is smaller than 14 inches by 14 inches, the lettering and stripe shall be in proportion to the size of the bag.
    4. A compostable plastic bag sold or distributed in the state shall not display a chasing arrow resin identification code or recycling type of symbol in any form.
    5. A manufacturer is required to comply with this section only to the extent that the labeling requirements of subdivisions (B), (C), and (D) do not conflict with the Federal Trade Commission Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Part 260 (commencing with Section 260.1) of Subchapter B of Chapter I of Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations).
  6. Must not be labeled “biodegradable,” “oxy-degradable,” or “degradable.”
  7. Storage and handling instructions must be provided to each end user in order for the end user to maximize the shelf life of the compostable bag product.
  8. Must maintain the same strength and integrity at least 6 months from the date of manufacture if storage and handling instructions are followed correctly.
  9. Must have a wet load capacity of 30 pounds for bags that fit 7 and 10-gallon containers, 35 pounds minimum for bags which fit 23-gallon container and 40 pounds for bags which fit 32-gallon containers. 

Last updated

Last updated: 
February 7, 2014

Guide for Small Businesses & Homes

For kitchen compostables in the home, used milk cartons are a money-saving alternative to compostable bags