There are increasing global regulations to ensure manufacturers and their supply chains create more sustainable products which can be recycled or recovered, of which compostability (whether materials are compostable) plays a big part.
In the EU, The Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (PPWD; in Force), and the forthcoming European Commission’s Green Deal and new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (along with the Digital Product Passport) seek to deliver benefits to businesses, consumers and the environment.
Compostability testing is usually comprised of four key components; chemical composition, biodegradability, disintegration and ecotoxicity. Eurofins offers compostability testing services for compliance with international standards covering the criteria set out for these key components; all of which must pass the pass/ fail limits set out in the relevant standard in order for the material to be proven to be compostable.
The PPWD 94/62/EC and EN 13432
The EU directive on packaging and packaging waste (PPWD) 94/62/EC includes a requirement for a package to meet environmental and climate targets. One of the harmonised standards which falls under PPWD 94/62/EC is EN 13432.
EN 13432 sets out the requirements for packaging recoverable through composting and biodegradation. The standard explicitly sets out the test scheme and evaluation criteria for the final acceptance of packaging. The standard specifies that packaging may be deemed to be compostable only if all the constituents and components of the packaging are compostable.
For the EU, analysis in Eurofins’ accredited laboratories confirms the demands of EN 13432; combined chemical composition, biodegradability, disintegration and ecotoxicity. During the certification procedure, an assessment is made not only of the base materials but also of the various additives and other product properties.
ISO 17088 and ASTM 6400
Related to the EU PPWD 94/62/EC, at the international level, the International Standards Organization (ISO) has developed ISO 17088 for plastics which is in harmony with EN 13432 as well as the US standard ASTM 6400.
Combined chemical composition
Part of compostability requires that the composted material does not contain any volatile matter, heavy metals or other potentially toxic elements which might affect the quality of the compost produced. Eurofins performs combined chemical composition on samples to ensure they are within allowed limits.
For EN 13432, the standard sets limits for volatile matter, heavy metals, such as Cu, Zn, Ni, Cd, Pb, Hg, Cr, Mo, Se, As, etc., and fluorine, all of which have upper limits set for a dry sample.
Biodegradation is the chemical breakdown of materials into CO2, water and minerals (new cell biomass) with the help of micro-organisms. This process is dependent on environmental conditions such as location, temperature, humidity, and the presence of microorganisms; so the process and outcome can be highly variable.
In the EU, pursuant to EN 13432, at least 90% of the materials must have been broken down by biological action, generating within a maximum of 6 months, at least 90% as much CO2 as given off from the control/reference material.
We offer biodegradability services for various products including consumer products, food packaging and contact packaging materials, including biodegradability testing to ISO 20136 testing for leather.
In terms of compostability, disintegration is defined as the physical decomposition of a product into tiny pieces. Under EN 13432, the criteria are that after 12 weeks, at least 90% of the product should be able to pass through a 2 x 2 mm mesh.
Eurofins also performs disintegration testing to ISO 20200 for plastics and modified for leather.
The quality and ecotoxicity of the final compost are important factors of compostability; the quality of the compost should not decline as a result of the added packaging material.
Eurofins offers Ecotoxicity testing which involves making an examination to see if the germination and biomass production of plants are adversely affected by the influence of composted packaging.
Why Eurofins Sustainability Services?
Specialist experience in leather, textiles, paper, packaging and plastics
Multiple testing facilities
Complete package from biodegradability to toxicity impacts and plant response
Can be linked with the microplastic analysis of degradant