Home compost or Industrial compost certified shopping bags? What to choose in Canada?

So, there are currently 2 types of compost standards available for the checkout shopping bags: industrial and home.  Which one is better?

Let`s try to answer this question.

Biodegradable products institute (BPI) organization that does certify products for industrial compost in North America gives a good explanation of composting – https://bpiworld.org/BPI-Composting.

For all products with the industrial compost logo the only way to be fully compostable is to go to the industrial facility. Only under certain conditions these bags can fully biodegrade within a short period of time.  

As of today, BPI does not certify products for home compost. Maybe the reason is that there is no such standard per se. How come then we have HOME compost certificate on some products?

It is because European organization TUV Austria (a world leader in compost certifications) goes far ahead than many countries can implement national standards in compost including Canada and the US. And it is worth mentioning that this OK HOME compost certificate by TUV Austria is itself a basis for many national standards. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent certificate for home compost in North America.

Bags certified with OK Home compost can be composted at your backyard without any industrial compost facility. It is very important as there are not many such facilities in Ontario. Actually, there is none in the city of Toronto – https://findacomposter.com. If there is no industrial facility in your region, the bag will be treated as a regular garbage.

As a bottom line, we can say that today OK HOME compost is the highest possible certificate in compost industry for the shopping bags. Bags with that logo can be composted both ways: industrially or at home.

If you have a choice between these 2 standards, do not compromise and pick the best. It is not only a responsible choice to make but also it is what is expected from the compostable products – to be unconditionally compostable and the best for the environment…

Are certified compostable bags exempt from the single use plastic ban in Canada?

As we already know the Federal Government promised to ban single use plastic shopping bags in Canada. They have not provided any date yet but looking at the experience of other countries it seems that the ban is inevitable and fast approaching. We still do not have a clear picture of how this regulation will be written.  There are many municipalities and even provinces in Canada which already implemented the plastic ban on the checkout shopping bags where they literally banned all kind of plastic including the compostable ones.

Will the federal regulation follow suit and ban compostable bags as well?

There are some opponents who support the idea of the total plastic ban.

Let`s try to predict if the compostable products will be outlawed by looking at other countries that are a bit ahead of Canada in this area.

Let`s look at the US.

Washington state is banning all plastic bags starting October 1, 2021 but allowing to use compostable bags – https://ecology.wa.gov/Waste-Toxics/Reducing-recycling-waste/Waste-reduction-programs/Plastics/Plastic-bag-ban.

California state was one of the first in the world who banned the plastic bags but not certified compostable bags – https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB270.

In Europe each state decides itself how they want to implement the plastic ban but there is no clear directive that bans compostable products – https://ec.europa.eu/environment/topics/plastics/bio-based-biodegradable-and-compostable-plastics_en.

It is allowed to use compostable bags in Europe and the only requirement that is set for them is to be properly labeled and certified with an independent organization – https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32015L0720&from=EN.

It is worth mentioning that France has set the highest standard by allowing only HOME compost bags and planning to ban the industrial compost bags – https://bioplasticsnews.com/2019/12/13/france-adopts-amendment-that-will-change-bioplastics-industry/.

So, we can see that countries prefer not to ban the certified compostable bags and have them as an alternative to conventional plastic. I think we can cautiously assume that Canada will choose the same path. Anyway, we will get the answer to this question very soon.

What does the ”OK compost HOME” certification mean?

The best way to answer this question would be to look at the information provided by TUV Austria, the organization that does that certification.

OK compost HOME

Owing to the comparatively smaller volume of waste involved, the temperature in a garden compost heap is clearly lower and less constant than in an industrial composting environment. This is why composting in the garden is a more difficult, slower-paced process.

TÜV AUSTRIA’s innovative answer to this challenge was to develop OK compost HOME to guarantee complete biodegradability in the light of specific requirements, even in your garden compost heap.

OK compost HOME is not based on a standard but is the basis for several standards!

It seems important to remember that the OK compost HOME certification programme does not explicitly refer to a specific standard but details all the technical requirements that a product must meet in order to obtain the certification. It should also be remembered that, as a pioneer in this field, the requirements of the OK compost HOME programme, defined in 2003 and never questioned since then, have served as the basis for the drafting of several standards such as: 

Australia: AS 5810 (2010) – Biodegradable plastics – Biodegradable plastics suitable for home composting

France: NF T 51800 (2015) – Plastics – Specifications for plastics suitable for home composting

Europe: prEN 17427 (2020) – Packaging — Requirements and test scheme for carrier bags suitable for treatment in well-managed home composting installations

Source: https://www.tuv-at.be/green-marks/certifications/ok-compost-seedling/

Our bags can be reused for kitchen organic waste bins

The bags perfectly fit the standard kitchen bin and the handles will help you to make a knot once the bin is full. It is not only convenient but as well is a smart way to reduce the human impact on the planet. Once again, our bags meet the home compost and industrial compost standards so you can put them in the green bins.

Compost standards and certifications

We understand that sometimes it might be really confusing with all that composting standards, certifications, certifying organizations. Hopefully the chart below will help you to see the difference between home composting and industrial composting standards and the main certifying bodies.

CertificationsIndustiral compostHome compost
Product compost requirementsRequires commercial compost facilityOccurs at the backyard conditions at home
Test standard – USAASTM D6400Currently none
Test standard – EuropeEN 13432TUV Austria OK Compost HOME is the basis for standards in different countries
Certifying organizationsBPI (USA),                                    TUV Austria OK Compost INDUSTRIALTUV Austria OK Compost HOME