California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Degradable, Compostable, and Biodegradable Plastics

The State of California has recognized the impacts of plastics on the environment, including compostable, degradable, and biodegradable plastics. To address this, the California Legislature declares that it is California’s public policy that environmental marketing claims, whether explicit or implied, should be substantiated by competent and reliable evidence to prevent deceiving or misleading consumers about environmental impact of degradable, compostable, and biodegradable plastic bags, food service ware, and packaging. The Legislature also recognizes how important it is for consumers to have accurate and useful information about the environmental impact of compostable, degradable, and biodegradable plastics and any environmental marketing claims. It further recognizes that these plastics should meet the criteria to uniform and recognized standards, including those established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) (Public Resources Code (PRC) sections 42355-42357 and 42359-42359.6).

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is concerned with how plastics impact the environment and the effects plastic have on California’s landfills. To assist consumers of the State of California, CalRecycle has identified resources that can help address marketing claims of plastics labeled degradable, compostable, and/or biodegradable. In addition to identifying resources that can help address marketing claims, CalRecycle has sponsored studies to review degradable and compostable products and their performance in different environments.

Public Concerns and Product Labeling

Any consumer with questions about labeling of plastics as compostable, degradable, and/or biodegradable should first contact the manufacturer or distributor. The manufacturer or distributor should have information available to address the concern. If the manufacturer or distributor is not able to address the concern, or if inconsistencies are identified regarding the plastic bags, packaging, or food service products labeled as compostable, degradable, and/or biodegradable, resources on our Public Concerns and Product Labeling page may be of assistance.

Studies: Degradable and Compostable Plastics

Recognizing the impacts plastics have on the environment and the effect plastics have on California landfills, studies to evaluate several aspects of plastic have been conducted in California. These studies have included the performance of degradable and compostable plastics in the environment.

Last updated: January 07, 2011
Plastic Recycling