Tied, Untied, or Doesn't Matter?
February 5, 2011 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Should my biodegradable compost bags be tied or untied when they go into the compost heap in order for the contents to break down fastest?

We recently started using BioBags, 3 gallon biodegradable compost bags for our food scraps and shredded newspaper. My partner thinks our compost would process faster if we put them on the compost pile with bags tied at the top.

Will tying the top of the bag have any impact on how fast it turns into compost, or will it make no difference either way?? I live in southern California, and my compost pile get a lot of direct sunlight. Temperatures typically range between 65-85. I water it about once a week.
posted by arnicae to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Aeration is important for composting, so I think it's probably better to leave them untied, and better still to empty them out and cut the bag into little pieces (or, if you're as lazy as me, to just kinda stab at them and tear them up with a pitchfork like I do with the paper sacks we sometimes use.)
posted by contraption at 3:01 PM on February 5, 2011

I don't really know how quickly the bag decomposes, but I would guess that the bag will be the slowest to break down. It should make no difference if the bag is open or closed, as what you really want is to get your organics to get together.
posted by Gilbert at 3:03 PM on February 5, 2011

In order for something to decompose quickly, more surface area needs to be exposed to the air. This would imply that the bags should not be tied, so that the contents are exposed to the air.
posted by dfriedman at 3:03 PM on February 5, 2011

Leave them open. The bags might not break down any faster, but if you leave them closed then their contents will rot anaerobically and stink when they finally break open.
posted by jon1270 at 3:07 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Biobags will typically take up to three months to decompose. Agreed with those above to definitely leave the bags open; that will allow the contents to compost more quickly which will speed decomposition of the bag.
posted by vers at 3:11 PM on February 5, 2011

Yeah, if you have to use a bag (???) then remove the compost from it.
posted by anaelith at 3:25 PM on February 5, 2011

Yeah, if you have to use a bag (???) then remove the compost from it.

Biobags are cornstarch-based and designed to be compostable along with the contents.
posted by vers at 3:57 PM on February 5, 2011

I'm still thinking this would be the difference between, say, a whole apple or an apple which has been chopped open... one of them rots a lot faster, even though the other one is biodegradable!

But mostly I'm baffled because our family doesn't use a bag in our compost receptacle at all. We just take the whole bin to the pile, empty, and wash. Maybe that's an option here, too?
posted by anaelith at 4:52 AM on February 6, 2011

If you want your compost to break down fast, you should dump the contents out of the bag into the bin, then tear up the bag and throw it in on top (or reuse it).
posted by Camofrog at 11:28 AM on February 6, 2011

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