Biodegradability guaranteed by EN 13432
Biodegradation is the natural decomposition process of organic matter, caused by the enzymatic action of microorganisms present in the soil.Depending on its thickness, a product made from BIOPLAST degrades 100% into water, carbon dioxide gas and biomass in less than 180 days. All biomass residues are totally non-toxic for the environment.
BIOPLAST resins comply with international standards such as EN 13432 and ASTM 6400.
It is also important to consider that the biodegradation properties of a material do not depend on the vegetal origin of its carbon atoms. For example green PE is completely biobased. It is still chemically identical (“drop-in”) to fossil PE. As a result it is not biodegradable.Oxo-fragmentation is not biodegradation.
Oxo-fragmentation should not be mixed with certified biodegradation. Oxo-fragmentation is merely a fragmentation of non-biodegradable plastics into microscopic particles under the effect of heavy metal additives. Unlike biodegradation, there is no change in the chemical structure of the material, so fragmented particles remain in the environment.
Oxo-fragmentable plastics do not comply with any standard of biodegradable bioplastics. For more information about the differences between oxo-fragmentable and biodegradable plastics: European Bioplastics position paper. (LINK)
Composting according to EN 13432 is defined as a biodegradation process controlled by time, under specific aerobic conditions. It can take place in an industrial compost plant or a domestic device. A classical composting cycle in a plant is spread over 6 to 12 weeks, under controlled conditions: humidity, temperature and aeration. All products made with BIOPLAST resins fully integrate with composting procedures and are consequently the preferred packaging for organic waste. All products mades with BIOPLAST resins comply with compostability labels such as OK compost and, for some grades, with OK compost HOME. What does EN 13432 specify?
This European standard covers 4 fields of metrics:
Absence of heavy metals
BIOPLAST resins are partly or completely made from renewable plant-based resources such as potato starch, which are an opportunity to avoid fossil resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Life cycle assesment shows that biobased plastics could provide a reduction in CO2 of between 30 and 70% compared to conventional plastics, depending on the feedstock, the product and the application.
Potato starch used by BIOTEC presents interesting environmental and industrial properties:
No need for irrigation
Little transportation due to regional suppliers
How about food consumption?
As stated in the European Bioplastics fact sheet on renewable resources: the agricultural cultivation area needed to fully generate current global production capacity of biobased plastic would today amount to 286,000 hectares, which is equal to approximately 0.02% of the total arable land available in the world.
Research conducted by the University of Applied Science and Arts in Hannover (Germany) indicates that even a complete shift in plastics production standing at approximately 250 million tonnes p.a. to biobased plastics would require only a 5% portion of arable land.
All BIOPLAST resins are mechanically recyclable like many other conventional plastic materials, if a specific procedure is provided. Internal trials have shown that up to 10% of recycled BIOPLAST in the finished film does not significantly harm the mechanical properties of a blown film made out of conventional recycled PE.
Furthermore, production waste of BIOPLAST resins can be easily regranulated without significant loss of their properties.
Recyclability also applies to energy recovery, as BIOPLAST resins have caloric power that is similar to polyethylene.
END OF LIFE OPTIONS
Being certified OK compost, packaging made from BIOPLAST sees its most relevant end-of-life option in green waste collecting systems. Refuse bags made from BIOPLAST resins are the preferred packaging for organic waste, as there is no need to separate the bag from its contents; it is directly integrated into the composting procedure. This is why many local communities provide their citizens with BIOPLAST refuse bags.
More than 115 millions of tons of compostable waste are produced every year in Europe, of which only 17% are collected. Depending on the country, collection rates vary from 40% in Austria to less then 10% in 13 other European countries. Whether waste is incinerated or put into landfill, developing compostable waste collection leads to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (as green waste is still incinerated in many countries, a process that requires a lot of energy). Landfilling organic waste also generates methane and other greenhouse gases.
BIOPLAST is relevant for any other form of disposal: mechanical recycling, incineration, landfill…