, 2014 

Standard EN 13432:

Proof of compostability of plastic products

Plastic products can provide proof of their compostability by successfully meeting the harmonised European standard, EN 13432. The European Packaging Directive 94/62 EC makes reference hereto with regard to compliance with recovery directives.

Scope of testing under EN 13432 Chemical test: Disclosure of all constituents, threshold values for heavy metals are to be adhered to. Biodegradability in watery medium (oxygen consumption and production of CO2): Proof must be made that at least 90% of the organic material is converted into CO2 within 6 months.

Disintegration in compost: After 3 months’ composting and subsequent sifting through a 2 mm sieve, no more than 10% residue may remain, as compared to the original mass.

Practical test of compostability in a semi- industrial (or industrial) composting facility: No negative influence on the composting process is permitted.
Compost application: Examination of the effect of resultant compost on plant growth (agronomic test), ecotoxicity test.

The maximum material gauge of a plastic is determined by its compostability in standard practice composting operations. All tests must be passed. Success in individual tests will not be sufficient. The EN standard test methods are based on the scientific definitions of the ISO standards 18451, 18452 (aerobic degradability in water), 18453 (anaerobic degradability in water) and 18455 (aerobic composting). The tests must be conducted by recognized test laboratories.  An address list is available from certifying bodies.

The association European Bioplastics approves plastic products according to EN 13432 if the marketer advertises the product to be "compostable" or "biodegradable". Because these terms are not always used correctly, the association has published information on so-called "degradable" or "oxo- degradable" plastic products. Producers have signed a voluntary self commitment on product certification which had been acknowledged by the European DG Enterprise.

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