How to use Compostable Bags in Curbside Composting Bins
More neighbourhoods in North America are using compostable bags as curbside programs expand. You get a 32, 65 or 96-gallon green bin and some instructional material about how to compost. After a few weeks, fewer homes put out their green compostable bin on trash day. If they were facing the same problem as us, then we know why that is. Storing compostable material without it giving off a nasty smell and causing a mess that’s a cleaning nightmare, is not easy.
Can Compostable Bags in Curbside Composting bins really keep it clean?
There are various bag sizes available to make waste management more manageable, from the most used 13-gallon trash bags to the larger 33 gallons garbage bags. When using these bags indoors, we are faced with a dilemma. Do we wait till that bag fills up completely, or do we bring it out one-third full once a week? Luckily most 13 to 33 gallon bags are cost-effective & cheap. Most of the neighbourhood has sorted that out now.
How much food does a small family produce per week?
On trash pick-up day, because of extra fees, fines, and penalties imposed for not separating waste, just about everyone has their green bins out. I don’t know how much they have in theirs. Suppose our containers can be used as an indicator. That’s at least 4 to 6 kilograms of food waste, a week from a few houses that aren’t going into the landfill.
I don’t use the green bin it gets too stinky
The city provided green trash & recycling containers get dirty & challenging to maintain. Separating organics & using your bins as advised, you may get a smaller regular trash bin. In many cities & towns, you pay based on that bin’s size, so if you had half of your trash being compostable. You could downsize to a smaller regular trash bin, you could save money on your waste bill every month. But many families are way too busy to rinse out recyclables before tossing them. While others do not care, or want to be cleaning a nasty trash can, so no real improvement has occurred.
The challenges of curbside composting
The first challenge is to figure out how to store compostable materials in the kitchen, in a sanitary way to prevent giving off a nasty smell, attract insects, leak and make a mess.
Why should we separate food waste & bag food waste?
If you have a small family or you don’t produce a lot of compost daily, you could probably go with a smaller-sized wastebasket. We’ve got four people here and myself, mostly I eat a plant-based diet, so I produce quite a bit of waste. We all agreed that we wanted to have a lid for the compost container to keep odours & bugs away.
In places like Texas, where temperatures are high, there are lots of cockroaches. You might even get some mosquitoes & fruit flies buzzing near a compost container, leaving behind eggs, which turn into larvae or maggots. The sight of even a few maggots can turn anyone’s stomach and is usually the time people panic. We also most certainly didn’t want to be feeding any other insects, rats, rodents and large critters.
Hardware stores near me
They’re a few sizes based on your output from the 8, 10, or 13-gallon bin for the kitchen container or catcher. Choose a kitchen bin that has a foot pedal, which is very handy when you’re peeling an apple, scraping leftovers from a plate or something to drop right in there. They are cheap and can be picked up at any local store near you, Home hardware, Home Depot, Walmart or Target for about $30 or less. You can also find one at a dollar store.
Plastic Vs compostable bags for curbside composting?
- Some cities like Toronto & Ottawa allow residents to use plastic bags because they are separated at the municipal composting facility.
- And some don’t. Compostable, biodegradable, and plastic are treated the same.
- Others accept only certified compostable bags.
If reading that confused you, Imagine others who have just given up. Our waste management collector accepts all kinds.
Why do we use plastic or compostable bags?
The next & most important thing we needed was a bag or liner for that trash can. Without it, I couldn’t have taken out the trash every couple of days and dumped it.
But the way the disposal system is designed causes a stink, and as mentioned, attracts files & then maggots. The idea of the food being loose in the compostable bin sitting outside of the house, heating up and attracting insects & possibly rodents is not anyone’s idea of even a painful chore, but it happens frequently. We tried every favourite always handy plastic grocery bags or store checkout bags for the first couple of weeks.
They fit in that pretty well, and to prevent extra liquids from leaking out, I would double bag a bag and take it out maybe after about three or four days. This avoided wet items like tea bags, or watermelon cantaloupe rind that might leak a lot of liquid and come through the small holes were prevented. No one likes garbage juice leaking along the floor when carrying out your bag to dump it.
Paper bag test
When it comes to thinking of a compostable bag for curbside composting, paper bags come to mind. If a good deal came along, I picked up paper bags; they are considered more eco environmentally friendly. The tall paper bags for trash cans fit & sit well too. You can roll the edges over the lip of the can, but that prevents the lid of your kitchen trash can from closing.
It’s natural for us to take care when lifting paper bags out of the bin without wanting the bottom falling out because of holding wet compost materials and carry it out to the bin outside. A paper bag with soggy bottom would crumble away and fall out while carrying the bag out to the compostable bin. It was always a mental fear while lifting a load out.
Premium quality eco-friendly compostable paper bags
Today, some great reinforced bottom paper bags are available, which hold wet waste for longer periods. Still, it’s also the sides that count too, and they get weak, after some time.
If you don’t already know there is a huge price gap between paper vs compostable or plastic bags. We produced an average amount of unavoidable food waste & leftover scraps perfect for compost in the bin, including the wet and juicy stuff. Regular-sized trash bags like the 13 gallon bag in the kitchen are not compostable.
So I went online and researched compostable bags. I had questions that needed answers.
Are compostable bags really compostable?
Would compostable bags really break down over time and not increase pollution in the environment?
The other thing is in the short term, I did not want it to break down. If fear that a bag made of biodegradable plants would degrade quickly, especially when it got wet and stuff would soak through & leak out in your bin. As many brands popped up with similar reviews, but we decided to go with our favourite the13 gallon-sized bag. We went for the large pack, there’s a hundred in the box; we paid about $30 for it; that’s almost a year’s supply of trash bags at 2 bags a week.
The compostable bags must meet the standards for compost stability in Europe and the United States. Most brands will mention that on the bottom or on their box, it means that these bags meet the standards for the ASTM D 6400. That’s a standard that it needs to meet to be compostable in the United States.
How compostable are compostable bags?
You would think they would turn into good old compost based on the name, but that’s not really the standard they’re looking for. It says it’s made from plants and vegetables, according to the box. The messaging is misleading. Compostable bags breakdown correctly if disposed of properly in a maintained municipal facility.
The statements on the box make you believe compostable bags break down over a certain amount of time. It suggests that you can bury it in your yard under the leaves and that it. The truth is far from reality. Compostable bags break down, but in a carefully controlled municipal facility. It may take a lot longer to breakdown naturally, if at all.
what does ASTM D 6400 that standard mean?
Municipal compostable facilities provide heat, and the stuff gets turned over to give oxygen and new material. The small pieces will break down. I think there are a few months in which point 90% of it has to be dispensed with that way, and of the remainder, it’s more about the size that over a certain amount of time.
Are compostable bags good, are they strong?
Like paper bags, compostable bags need to be stored in a cool, dry place. Heat and moisture are some of the things that cause them to break down. You don’t want to have this, especially before you’ve gotten through all of them.
Compostable bags are pretty strong & rigid. You can stretch them out a little bit out of shape but cannot be poking holes in them. Imagine your finger as a blunt piece of trash accidentally disposed of is applying pressure and trying to drive through the material. It would take a moderate amount of pressure to poke a hole in it. Compared to regular plastic trash, compostable trash bags also come in different millimetre thicknesses, so it’s easy to find one that’s near the same thickness.
How do compostable bags behave overtime when it’s exposed to moisture?
After we’ve had the bag holding food waste for a couple of days to a week, it depends on what’s chucked away, for example, chicken & fish. When I pull a bag out a little bit of moisture-like condensation present, I can wait for about an hour or so for the moisture accumulated in the bin to evaporate, before putting it in a fresh compostable bag. But I usually rinse out & wait till the container is dry, or the wife gets mad.
Outdoor 32-gallon trash can
We are provided with an outdoor 32-gallon green bin & two 96 gallon carts for recycling & trash. The green container is picked up by the city once a week.
How does a week’s worth of trash in compostable bags in curbside composting carts hold up?
A few moisture droplets in the bottom are standard, but the bags are held up. It’s essential to tightly seal bags, to avoid any leaks if the bag position shifts or leaks due to expanding gas inside. But from years of throwing in packs, often when bags are piled on top of each other, waste matter leaks and stinks up the bin.
You can line your large outdoor 32, 64 or 95 gallon waste container by using jumbo oversized trash bags. They are a good option to keep outdoor carts clean.
- But that’s a tremendous amount of plastic used to prevent the mess of a few bags.
- But they are hard to find on store shelves.
- And they balloon up constantly when your throwing in stuff
Are compostable bags good?
Yes, you can get a compostable bag that’s as thick and sturdy as a plastic bag. The timeline compostable bags in curbside composting bins break down should concern us. Food waste is collected on a weekly schedule. A quick wash or spray and airing will keep, both your indoor and outdoor trash cans clean and fresh.
Washing will prevent remove any moisture buildup, grime & odours. Sealing your bags well will prevent any smell and pests. There are products available, that you can use along with compost bags to make, home waste management effortless. I’ll talk about it towards the end.
How to fit small compostable bags in curbside composting bins
We want things to be clean while doing the least amount of work. If it can help save time, money & help the environment that’s an extra. Check out what we think is a pretty good solution that does all that & more.
Learn how to use your compostable bags in curbside composting cans, along with our simple DIY system to make your waste management mess & hassle-free. You can fit regular 13 to 33-gallon bags in your large outdoor 32, 65 or 96-gallon trash cans. Bags are firmly held wide open, hanging in the bin. This makes it effortless to quickly throw in big bags or food waste such as watermelon chunks without using large oversized bags.
It’s a super-easy way to keep bins clean and nuisance pests away from your home’s bins and area.
If your neighbourhood’s getting on the composting bandwagon, BagEZ makes it efficient to use. To learn how? click here. Youtube video link
I hoped I made choosing bags easier for you, and maybe even using them.