Oxo-biodegradation is officially defined by CEN as “degradation resulting from oxidative and cell-mediated phenomena, either simultaneously or successively.”
STANDARDS FOR OXO-BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC (pdf version)
Oxo-biodegradable plastic can be tested and accredited to the OPA Standard in order to determine whether the product is actually oxo-biodegradable. More detailed testing is performed according the the following international standards.
- American Standard ASTM D6954 – “Standard Guide for Plastics that Degrade in the Environment by a Combination of Oxidation and Biodegradation”
- British Standard 8472 Packaging – Method for determining the degradability, oxo-
biodegradability and phyto- toxicity of plastics
- French Accord T51-
808 Plastics Assessment of oxo-biodegradability of polyolefinic materials in the form of films
- Swedish Standard SPCR 141 Polymeric waste degradable by abiotic and subsequent biological degradation – Requirements and test methods
- UAE Standard 5009:2009 Standard & Specification for Oxo-
biodegradation of Plastic bags and other disposable Plastic objects
- Saudi Standard: (awaiting information from Perry)
- ISO 17556 Plastics — Determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability in soil by measuring the oxygen demand in a respirometer or the amount of carbon dioxide evolved
• There are also standards in Singapore, Jordan, Iran, and other countries
• There is also a French Standard XP_T_54-
These Standards measure:
• Tier 1 – Degradability
• Tier 2 –
• Tier 3 –
There are two types of Standards – Standard Guides and Standard Specifications. ASTM 6954 is an acknowledged and respected Standard Guide for performing laboratory tests on oxo-
ASTM D 6954 and BS 8472 have no less than six passes/fail criteria. 1. for the abiotic phase of the test (6.3 –
The tests performed according to ASTM D6954-
Conditions in the laboratory are designed to simulate, so far as possible, conditions in the real world, but have to be accelerated in order that tests may be done in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost. This does not invalidate the results in relation to real-
There is no requirement in ASTM D6954-
Packaging made from oxo-
STANDARDS FOR COMPOSTABLE PLASTICS
Biodegradation in the environment is NOT the same thing as composting.
Composting is an artificial process operated to a much shorter timescale than the processes of nature. Standards (such as ASTM D6400, D6868; EN13432, and Australian Standard 4736 see below) designed for compostable plastic are not therefore appropriate for plastic which is designed to self-
EN13432, ASTM D6400, D6868, ISO 14855, 17088 and Australian Standard 4736-
The requirement in EN13432 and similar standards for 90% conversion to CO2 gas within 180 days is not useful even for composting, because it contributes to climate change instead of contributing to the improvement of the soil. “Compostable” plastic, 90% of which has been converted to CO2 gas, is therefore virtually useless in compost. Nature’s lignocellulosic wastes, such as leaves and straw do not behave in this way.
“Compostable” plastic is compliant with EN13432 and similar standards precisely because it emits CO2 (a greenhouse gas) at a high rate.
The Note to paragraph 5 of EN 13432 says: “It is important to recognise that it is not necessary that biodegradation of packaging material or packaging be fully completed by the end of biological treatment in technical plants but that it can subsequently be completed during the use of the compost produced.” This is what oxo-
If a leaf were subjected to the CO2 emission tests included in EN13432 it would not pass! Leaves are not of course required to pass any such test, but it shows how artificial the standard is.
Conversion of organic materials to CO2 at a rapid rate during the composting process is not “recovery” as required by the European Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC as amended), and should not really be part of a standard for composting. Nature’s lignocellulosic wastes do not behave in this way, and if they did they would have little value as soil improvers and fertilisers, having lost most of their carbon.
The EU Directive does NOT require that when a packaging product is marketed as “degradable” or “compostable” conformity with the Directive must be assessed by reference to EN13432. The Directive provides that conformity with its essential requirements may be presumed if EN 13432 is complied with, but it does not exclude proof of conformity by other evidence. Indeed Annex Z of EN13432 itself says that it provides only one means of conforming with the essential requirements.
(See “Tests for Compostable Plastic” above)
• EN 13432 (except for eco-
• ASTM D6400 (except for eco-
• AUSTRALIAN 4736
• ISO 17088
These are all standards for biodegradation in the special conditions found in industrial composting. They require short timescales and rapid CO2 emissions
The standards for degradation in anaerobic conditions are also irrelevant because oxo-