Compostable bags - Cello Bags

Compostable Bags vs Paper Bags – Which is Better?


Paper bags can be seen almost everywhere, but only some know what compostable bags are. I am pretty sure that almost every household has some pile of paper bags stashed away, perhaps accumulated over multiple grocery trips. These sturdy carriers have been steadfast companions in our shopping excursions, symbolising reliability. However, a new contender has emerged as we navigate the sustainability landscape – the compostable bag.

So what are compostable bags, and are they better than paper bags?

Let’s find out!

In This Article

What Makes Compostable Bags Compostable?

Compostable bags are named as such because of their special composition, carefully chosen to promote natural decomposition. Compostable plastic bags decompose into organic matter and add to nutrient-rich soil, unlike conventional plastic bags, which linger in the environment for generations. Let’s examine the essential elements that contribute to the compostability of bags.

Plant-Based Materials

Plant-based, renewable materials like cornflour, sugarcane, or potato starch make compostable bags. These components are essential to the bag’s ability to decompose organically since they are building blocks. Compostable bags provide a more sustainable option by reducing reliance on finite fossil fuels by utilising plant resources.

Biodegradable Polymers

The utilisation of biodegradable polymers is what gives compostable bags their enchantment. These polymers are designed to resemble conventional plastics regarding structural integrity, but they have one important distinction: microbes may degrade them. The biodegradable polymers in the bag are broken down into simpler organic compounds by microorganisms like bacteria and fungi when exposed to the proper circumstances, as in a composting environment.

Lack of Toxic Additives

Compostable bags avoid harmful ingredients that are frequently included in conventional plastics. The bag won’t discharge toxins into the environment during its decomposition because it contains no dangerous ingredients. Given the effects of plastic waste on ecosystems, this feature makes biodegradable bags a cleaner, more environmentally responsible option.

Verified Biodegradability

These bags generally undergo rigorous testing and certification procedures to be given the official “compostable” designation. Certification organisations, like the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), evaluate if a product satisfies particular compostability requirements. Goods that pass these standards are accepted for use in commercial composting facilities, decomposing quickly into compost without producing hazardous byproducts.

Quick Disintegration

Compared to conventional plastics, compostable bags are made to break down considerably more quickly. Combining plant-based components, biodegradable polymers, and the lack of hazardous chemicals accelerates the breakdown process. This quick breakdown plays a major role in lessening the load on landfills and tackling the expanding problem of plastic pollution.

Contribution to Soil Enrichment

Compostable bags are unique in that they can improve soil health. They function as a natural fertiliser by releasing essential nutrients into the soil as they decompose. This benefits the land used for agriculture or wherever the compostable bags end up, as it improves the environment around them.

End-of-Life Management

Proper end-of-life management is essential for compostable bags to live up to their environmentally beneficial claims. This entails ensuring that these bags are disposed of in settings favourable to composting, like residential compost bins or commercial composting facilities. Compostable bags complete the cycle from plant-based origins to beneficial compost when introduced to these habitats and undergo a regulated decomposition process.

What exactly are paper bags?

Paper bags are the unsung heroes of the supermarket industry. They’re the dependable carriers you frequently see at the register; they’ve been in business for a while. However, what makes them unique from other bags, and what’s their issue?

Made with Wood Pulp

Wood is the starting point for paper bags. Not just any wood but wood from trees that have been responsibly farmed. Wood pulp is made from trees like pine and spruce, similar to creating a delicious smoothie with wood instead of fruit. This pulp is the key component used to make durable paper bags.

Simple Ingredients, Simple Process

The cool thing about paper bags is that they only need fancy stuff to become bags. After turning wood into pulp, it’s mixed with water to create a gooey mixture. This mixture is then spread out, pressed, and dried to form sheets of paper. These sheets are like the building blocks for making paper bags.

Sturdy and Recyclable

One of the best things about paper bags is how tough they are. They can handle a load of groceries without breaking a sweat. And when they’ve done their job, they’re recyclable. Toss them into the recycling bin, and they can be turned into new paper products, like more bags or newspapers.

Biodegradable Quality

Paper bags are the environmentally friendly members of the bag family. They decompose organically over time, unlike certain other materials that endure indefinitely. They biodegrade and return to the ground in the proper environment, such as a compost pile or the natural world.

Not Perfect, But Pretty Good

Paper bags have disadvantages even if they are a good option because they are recyclable and biodegradable. Energy and resources are needed to convert wood into paper; recycling paper still uses energy. Therefore, they’re a good selection compared to other bag materials, even though they could be more flawless.

Widely Available

Walk into almost any grocery store, and you’ll find paper bags. They’re like the familiar faces in the bag aisle, and their availability makes them a convenient choice for many shoppers. Plus, their simplicity and effectiveness have stood the test of time.

Ready for Reuse

Paper bags are not a one-time deal. You can use them again and again for different purposes. They make great recyclable storage, can be handy for arts and crafts, or even serve as a rustic gift wrap. Their versatility adds another layer to their eco-friendly charm.

Paper bags vs compostable bags - Key Differences

Raw Materials:

Paper Bags: They are crafted from wood pulp, typically obtained from responsibly managed forests. This wood pulp is processed into sheets of paper, which serve as the bag’s foundation.

Compostable Bags: They are made from plant-based, sustainable resources like potato, maise or sugarcane starch. Using agricultural byproducts, these bags lessen the need for conventional plastics from fossil fuels.

Decomposition Rate:

Paper Bags: Biodegradable but decompose at a slower rate compared to compostable bags. In natural environments, paper bags break down over time, returning to the earth.

Compostable Bags: Rapid decomposition is a key feature. Compostable bags break down faster, especially in composting facilities, and contribute to the creation of nutrient-rich compost.

Compostabke bags with nuts and candies - Cellobags

Carbon Footprint:

Paper Bags: The production of paper bags involves the transformation of wood into pulp, which can be an energy-intensive process. Recycling paper also requires energy, contributing to its overall carbon footprint.

Compostable Bags: Generally, they have a smaller carbon footprint in their production than paper bags. Using plant-based materials and less energy-intensive processes can make them more environmentally friendly.


End-of-Life Options:

Paper Bags: Recyclable and can be turned into new paper products. They can also biodegrade under the right conditions, contributing to soil enrichment.

Compostable Bags: These bags should be composted in industrial or home composting bins to ensure proper breakdown. When composted, they create compost, closing the loop sustainably.


Paper Bags: Known for their strength, they are sturdy and can handle heavier loads. Their durability makes them a reliable choice for various applications.

Compostable Bags: While compostable bags are designed to be durable, they may not be as robust as paper bags. However, technological advancements have led to reinforced versions that can handle substantial weight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Of course! Many biodegradable bags are made with strengthened construction that can support heavy loads. They are equally efficient at organising your groceries and other belongings as regular plastic bags.

Paper bags have benefits for the environment. They are a superior option than conventional plastic bags because they are recyclable and biodegradable. However, variables like recycling rates and the energy required for their creation affect the overall environmental impact.

Compostable bags can decompose in landfills, but composting facilities are where they accomplish their environmental goals most successfully. These facilities create an ideal environment for quick breakdown and nutrient-rich compost. It’s essential to consider proper disposal options for maximum eco-friendliness.

Biodegradable bags can be more expensive due to using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials. However, its environmental benefits, such as quick decomposition and a lower carbon footprint, appeal to sustainability-conscious individuals.


Curious about Compostable bags? We have something for you!

Have you heard about Natureflex bags? These remarkable compostable bags are setting a new standard for eco-friendly packaging. If you’ve been looking for sustainable alternatives to traditional plastic bags, Natureflex bags might be your game-changer.

NatureFlex bags are composed of biodegradable 23um NK film using renewable source materials.

Our NatureFlex packaging can be composted industrially (where infrastructure exists) and exceed all international compostability criteria.

NatureFlex bags are suited for home composting and will biodegrade in a home compost bin in a matter of weeks, depending on the conditions. These biodegradable bags are ideal for candy, dried foods, pasta, cereal, biscuits, bakery, crisps, and snacks.

Check out our Natureflex bags for sustainable packaging that aligns with your environmental commitment.