NatureFlex™ films are certified in accordance with the Industrial composting standards, ISO 17088, EN13432, AS4736 and ASTM D6400, by Din Certco, the ABA and the BPI. In addition, all NatureFlex™ films are suitable for home composting and have been certified to ‘OK Compost Home’ by TÜV Austria. The majority of NatureFlex films have also been certified to AS5810 by the ABA for Home composting and are compliant with NF T51-800.
In order to achieve the certification from the official agencies, the relevant test programmes must be completed by an independent accredited test house.
Customers who use certified materials can apply for a ‘product certification’, so that products wrapped in certified packaging can carry the relevant composting logo. This logo allows packaging to be disposed of in the most appropriate manner, where the infrastructure exists.
It is possible to apply for a product certification based on our NatureFlex™ certifications. The testing requirements and costs involved will vary depending on the complexity of the conversion carried out on the materials. Customers should seek advice from their Futamura contact and/or BPI, Din Certco, TÜV Austria, ABA or REA (Renewable Energy Association) for specific enquiries.
The key elements of the EN 13432 test programme include:
A minimum 90% biodegradation versus a control sample is required in a maximum of six months. For NatureFlex™ films this is achieved in less than 45 days.
A pilot composting test ensures that the material physically breaks down within three months.
This includes heavy metal testing and determination of the volatile solid content.
Compost from the disintegration test is used to ensure that the components have no adverse effects on the plant growth.
The test programmes for EN 13432 and ASTM D6400 confirm the suitability of a material for composting in an industrial composting plant. In this situation, the conditions are optimised for biodegradation at a temperature of ca. 58ºC.
In many countries however, consumers actively compost their garden waste at home, either in compost bins or heaps, eliminating the need for collection. These processes are more variable due to lower temperatures (rarely more than 2 to 3oC above ambient temperature) at less optimised conditions. Under these conditions, certain compostable materials do not exhibit sufficient biodegradation.
NatureFlex™ films have been tested and approved to the OK Compost Home standard, which repeats the EN 13432 test protocol for biodegradation and disintegration at ambient temperatures, albeit over a longer time frame. They can, therefore, be successfully composted in a home composting environment and typically break down in just a few weeks. The majority of NatureFlex films are also compliant with AS5810 and NF T51-800.
Soil and Waste Water Biodegradation
NatureFlex™ NE has been tested to the MITI aqueous biodegradation test (ISO 14851) which demonstrates that it will also break down in waste water and in soil, as well as under home composting conditions.
All families of NatureFlex™ films have been tested to ISO 15985 (High solids anaerobic digestion test) at 52ºC. After 15 days, all the films exceeded the test requirements, reaching a similar level of biodegradation to the reference.
The subject of marine biodegradation has surged into public consciousness over the past year, following concerted efforts by Media and NGOs to highlight the major concern of littered plastics in the marine environment. The sudden high media profile of the subject has outpaced the availability of formal globally recognised standards to measure and certify materials as “marine biodegradable.” Some existing test methods have been adapted and / or withdrawn and new tests are under development. New standards are expected to be published over the next 2‑3 years.
The ASTM D 7081 standard – which has now been withdrawn – required a relative biodegradation level of 30 % under aerobic marine conditions within 28 days, 70 % disintegration within 12 weeks and a favourable outcome in toxicity tests with freshwater daphnids.
The “OK Biodegradable Marine” protocol managed by the certification agency TÜV Austria largely mimics the ASTM D 7081 test scheme, but with the principal difference that it demands a relative biodegradation level of 90 % under aerobic marine conditions within 6 months and 90 % disintegration within 12 weeks.
NatureFlex films were tested to the ASTM D 7081 standard in 2011 and met the required criteria. They reached the required biodegradation level of 30 % within 28 days and the test was stopped at that point, as that was all that was required. A number of NatureFlex grades were also shown to achieve complete disintegration and the ecotoxicity tests demonstrated that the films were not toxic to Daphnia.
We have since retested NatureFlex for biodegradation according to the “OK Biodegradable Marine” protocol which requires 90 % biodegradation in sea water. NatureFlex NM and NVS reached this point after 4 weeks and so can be considered biodegradable under marine conditions, according to the “OK Biodegradable Marine” protocol.
Disintegration tests were also repeated for a number of grades, except this time, despite significant disintegration occurring within the allowed 12 weeks, only NatureFlex NM and NVS completely disintegrated, notably within 4 weeks, meeting the set criteria. The ecotoxicity testing is being repeated to ensure the tests are carried out to the latest requirements.
Futamura’s policy is to ensure that all ‘green claims’ for our NatureFlex products are substantiated by external testing and by formal, independently awarded certification to globally recognised standards where they exist. The tests completed to date demonstrate that NatureFlex films show excellent biodegradation and significant disintegration in a marine environment, but only NatureFlex NM and NVS show complete disintegration within the 12 weeks allowed by the “OK Biodegradable Marine” protocol. However as test methods and standards evolve in this field, we will continue to monitor the situation and will conduct further testing as and when appropriate.