ASTM International’s Committee on Plastics (D20) is updating a widely used standard that helps identify and test products that use compostable coatings and films on paper and other substrates.
The standard in question is D6868, Specification for Labeling of End Items That Incorporate Plastics and Polymers as Coatings or Additives with Paper and Other Substrates Designed to be Aerobically Composted in Municipal or Industrial Facilities.
This specification establishes the requirements for the labelling of materials and products (including packaging), wherein a biodegradable plastic film or coating is attached (either through lamination or extrusion directly onto the paper) to compostable substrates and the entire product or package is designed to be composted in municipal and industrial aerobic composting facilities. This specification, however, does not describe the contents of the product or their performance with regards to compostability or biodegradability. In order to compost satisfactorily, the product must demonstrate each of the three characteristics as follows: (1) proper disintegration during composting; (2) adequate level of inherent biodegradation; and (3) no adverse impacts on the ability of composts to support plant growth.
Third-party certifiers and laboratories use this standard to help manufacturers make verifiable claims about their products.
This includes the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), where ASTM member Rhodes Yepsen serves as executive director. “Thousands of products have been successfully tested and certified as compostable according to ASTM D6868 by BPI,” he says. “As more and more businesses and municipalities collect food scraps for composting, this is a critical standard for determining whether the products included with the food are truly compostable.”
The standard will also help regulators and others who specify compostable products.