As far as pet care goes, there’s no worse chore than picking up poop. While the pet industry is racing to make this task easy and eco-friendly, several companies have made it worse by greenwashing the waste bag market.
I’ll be honest, I fell hook, line and sinker for Pets N Bags’ Environment Friendly Dog Waste Bags. On its box and Amazon page, this product is marketed with phrases like “Help the Environment!” and “Earth Friendly,” and proudly boasts being 100% oxo-biodegradable. I figured that meant the bag was made of natural materials that would gracefully return to the planet, contributing to the magic of Mother Earth’s nutrient cycle.
It was a lovely thought while it lasted.
After a little online research (because the box didn’t list any ingredients), I discovered that these bags are indeed made of plastic. The oxo-biodegradability stamp comes from using chemicals called Totally Degradable Plastic Additive (TDPA) from EPI Global that makes plastic degrade quicker in the presence of oxygen.
If you ask me, breaking big plastics into little plastics at a faster rate isn’t nearly enough to label a product Earth-friendly. It doesn’t cut it for the Federal Trade Commission, either, which asks that marketers “qualify general claims with specific environmental benefits.” I have yet to come across a specific environmental benefit on EPI’s website.
In fact, I found the contrary. On it’s Environmental Claims in the USA page, EPI “advises our licensees and end-users not to make any environmental claims in the United States concerning the degradation and/or biodegradation of products incorporating TDPA™.”
I searched the URL listed on the box (www.petsNbags.com) to ask what makes this product Earth-friendly and found nothing. The URL doesn’t exist. Then, I searched address on the box, which brought me to a company called i-Blason. This company sells mostly cell phone accessories and has only one pet product – Pets N Bags.
None of i-Blason’s other products are marked environmentally friendly or Earth friendly, and there is nothing on its website to qualify Pets N Bags’ Earth-friendly claims.
Regardless of this product’s oxo-biodegradability, it’s still a bag made of virgin plastic. The best case scenario for these plastic bags is ending up in a landfill to break down into “carbon dioxide, water and biomass,” as noted by EPI.
If picking up dog crap isn’t bad enough, being duped into a false-sense of environmentalism is. The cherry on top is still having 300 or so of these bags that I no longer want to use. Pets N Bags, i-Blason and anyone making and marketing these things are definitely on my shit list – and not the one they want to be on.
Deceptive terms for marketing pet waste bags
As it turns out, they aren’t the only offenders. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission sent letters to 20 such marketers and manufactures warning that “their “ biodegradable,” “compostable,” and other environmental claims may be deceptive.” The FTC did not release the letters or the names of the 20 companies in question.
“Such a claim without any qualification generally means to consumers that the product will completely break down into its natural components within one year after customary disposal. Most waste bags, however, end up in landfills where no plastic biodegrades in anywhere close to one year, if it biodegrades at all.”Statement from a 2015 FTC press release regarding deceptive marketing of dog waste bags.
According to EPI’s website, TDPA allows “products such as polyethylene carrier bags to biodegrade within 24 – 36 months, when disposed of in an appropriate environment.”
There is no chance Pets N Bags meet the requirements of the FTC and it is ridiculous that they continue to market themselves as environmentally friendly.
Here’s an entire list of pet waste bags made with EPI technology that are making similar Earh-friendly claims.
The Earth-friendliest pet waste solutions for Seattle
According to Seattle Public Utilities, pets in the Emerald City produce 50,000 pounds of waste per day. Responsibly disposing of this waste a bit trickier in the Seattle because of frequent rain and proximity to salmon habitat. Pet waste contains pathogens that, if buried or left on the ground, can wash into watersheds where it poses a threat to salmon and other wildlife. For the same reason, pet waste should not be composted or left anywhere near edible garden beds.
So what do we do with it? We shouldn’t bury it, leave it, compost it, throw it in recycling or yard waste – what’s left?
Unfortunately, bagging and throwing pet waste in the trash is the method recommended by Seattle Public Utilities and Snohomish County. It’s not ideal to send more waste to the landfill, but it’s better than allowing it to wreak havoc in the local soils and watersheds.
With that said, here are the most earth-friendly pet waste bags, according to Rover:
- BioBag Standard Pet Waste Bags: These bags are made with resin derived from plants, vegetable oils and compostable polymers. They can be composted at some municipal/industrial facilities, but not Cedar Grove. This is still a better option than petroleum based plastic bags.
- PoopBags.com: The Original Poop Bags sells three types of bags. One type is made from plants and renewable resources, another is USDA certified biobased (corn, vegetable oils, plant starch) and the third is made from up to 30% post-consumer/industrial materials. This company also donates to conservation organizations through its You Buy; We Donate program.
- bioDOGradable: These bags are a USDA Certified Biobased Product and 100% compostable, making them a preferred option to plastic bags. Again, King County’s primary compost facility, Cedar Grove, does not accept pet waste, so this would still go in the trash.
- Flush Puppies Doodie Bags: Flushing dog waste down the toilet is an option, but not one specifically recommended by Seattle Public Utilities. These Polyvinyl Alcohol-based bags are designed to be flushed or composted, which makes them an alternative petroleum-based plastic.
Feature photo: The author’s dog, Pippen, plays in the snow.