Today, the terms biodegradation, biodegradable materials, compostability etc. are very common, but frequently misused. Consequently, this is a source of misunderstanding. The European Standard EN13432 "Requirements for packaging recoverable through composting and biodegradation - Testing scheme and evaluation criteria for the final acceptance of packaging", resolves this problem by defining the characteristics that a material must have, in order to be defined as "compostable". This norm is a reference point for material manufacturers, public authorities, composters and consumers.
According to the European Standard EN13432, a compostable material must have the following characteristics:
Each of these points are necessary for the definition of compostability, but each point alone is not sufficient. For example, a biodegradable material is not necessarily compostable because it must also break up during one composting cycle. On the other hand, a material that breaks up, over one composting cycle, into microscopic pieces that are not totally biodegradable, is not compostable.
Composting is currently applied to selected waste, which contains only biodegradable organic material. Traditional plastics are banned from composting because they resist degradation and cause contamination. In contrast, biodegradable plastics are allowed, but only if they satisfy criteria established by norms that define compostable materials. In the absence of rules, definitions and test methods non-compatible materials were tried composted in the past. This caused a lot of harm, especially to the trust of users and of the technicians responsible for the composting plants. Today, this is no longer possible, thanks to the European Standard EN13432.
On behalf of the environment - Thank you !