In an effort to stymie plastic pollution, new supposedly compostable "bioplastics" are being engineered. While some of these bioplastics are claiming to be "100 percent compostable," testing at Woods End Labs has found that most of these claims are misleading, at best. (See The Truth About Biodegradable Plastics to read more about Woods End's bioplastics testing and findings.)
In response to the Woods End test, one reader (under the name Eco-Oxo) posted in the comments section of the article that Oxo bags aren't designed to break down under composting conditions. Eco-Oxo says that the Oxo bags will break down when exposed to oxygen and heat, such as if they were left out on the ground or taped to a fence for a few months.
Having already tested several of these bags (including Oxo brand and other brands that claim to biodegrade) in home composting conditions for its original tests, Woods End Labs agreed to run another test exactly as Eco-Oxo suggests: Attach the bag to a fence and watch what happens over the next few months.
So that you can follow along as the test progresses, we’ll post updates and photos here. For the first installment, check out the photo (at left) from Day 0 of the test, with an Oxo bag and a regular grocery store bag (non-biodegradable, included as a control in the experiment) tacked to a fence and left outside. Over the months to come, check back here and watch with us as we see how things pan out with both bags.
Oxo Biodegradable Bag Test: Week 3
No change in the Oxo bag, although the regular plastic bag is slightly fading.
Oxo Biodegradable Bag Test: Week 6
The ink on the Oxo bag is fading slightly. The ink on the regular plastic bag has faded significantly.
Oxo Biodegradable Bag Test: Week 9
The regular plastic is beginning to tear, the Oxo bag's ink has faded slightly with no other signs of degradation.
Oxo Biodegradable Test: Week 12, Conclusion of Test
Oxo Bags Fail to Break up in Record Hot NE Summer
Using recommendations from a Oxo distributor who criticized our research, Woods End scientists mounted Oxo and regular polyethylene bags on a fence. After 3 months, in a sizzling summer of unusually hot weather including several record highs, the Oxo bags remained completely unchanged. In contrast, and ironically, the regular polyethylene bag was shredded by the sheer force of sunlight and wind.
Photo by Woods End Labs