An ideal policy would restrict all types of plastic bags, of all thicknesses, including bioplastics, compostables, biodegradables, and oxo-degradables, as they are still prone to becoming litter, can gum up recycling machinery if they get co-mingled with recyclables. Plus, they still take resources to make, transport and dispose of.

If you do allow, be sure to mandate a third-party certification for bag producers to meet reusable bag requirements, or limit bag distribution to certified authorized bag sellers.

Biodegradables – Despite common thought, most bags labeled as biodegradable do not benignly degrade in the environment, making the term confusing and dangerous. While EU Member States more strictly define and regulate bio-degradable bag, most jurisdictions standards for biodegradability are not uniformly regulated and are often open to interpretation by industry.

We recommend extreme caution when choosing to include biodegradable bags in a policy and best practice would be NOT to allow biodegradable bags.

Compostable bags must end up in industrial composting facilities to properly compost. Thus we only recommend including compostable bags in a policy IF the location has such facilities in the jurisdiction. 


The Ban List 2.0

Alternatives to Plastic Bags

Types of Reusable Bags


California SB 270, Arlington and Ashland Massachusetts prohibit biodegradable and compostable bags

Seattle, Washington requires bags to be compostable according to ASTM standards and labeled properly

Brookline, Massachusetts’ requires bags to be ‘compostable and marine degradable’

South Australia requires all bags to compostable and comply with Australian Standard AS4736