The surge in consumer demand for sustainable goods drives the sales of biodegradable products which are believed to be more environmentally friendly than non-biodegradable products. Intertek supports manufacturers, suppliers and retailers in testing the biodegradability of products to better understand the impact of the material on the environment.

It is estimated that the biodegradable plastics market will be worth US$12.4 billion by 2027 (Source: MarketsandMarkets™ INC.). Many products, like textiles, tableware and trash bags, as well as their packaging, are claimed to be biodegradable. But what exactly does the term “biodegradable” mean?

Biodegradability refers to the ability of a material to decompose over time in a natural biological process, for example, through interaction with microorganisms, and break down into smaller substances such as water, carbon dioxide, methane, etc. Manufacturing biodegradable consumer products usually takes less energy and produces less pollution in terms of greenhouse gases, toxic chemicals, and waste. It is crucial to examine and qualify your products as genuinely biodegradable for a safer, cleaner and healthier environment.

How Does It Work?

Intertek tests the biodegradation rate of products under specific temperature, time, condition and microorganisms in the tested environment. 

What Products Can Be Tested?

Products including packaging materials, apparel, underwear, trims, accessories, bags, footwear and home textiles can be tested for biodegradation.

Our Testing Capabilities

Intertek offers biodegradability testing against ASTM D6691, ASTM D5338, ASTM D6400, ASTM D5511, ISO 14855, ISO 15985 and related standards.

This determines the aerobic biodegradation of plastic materials in the marine environment by a defined microbial consortium or natural seawater inoculum. This test method has been developed to assess the rate and degree of aerobic biodegradation of plastics exposed to marine microorganisms.

This determines the aerobic biodegradation of plastic materials under controlled composting conditions, incorporating thermophilic temperatures, to simulate conditions under the topsoil.

This is a standard for labelling of plastics designed to be aerobically composted in municipal or industrial facilities. Products meeting the requirements can be labeled as “compostable in municipal or industrial aerobic facilities” in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Federal Trade Commission, provided that proper qualifications as to the availability of such facilities are included on the label.

This determines anaerobic biodegradation of plastic materials under high-solids anaerobic-digestion conditions. This test method may resemble some conditions in biologically active landfills where the gas generated is recovered and biogas production is actively promoted by inoculation, moisture control, and temperature control.

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