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02 | 2010

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Basics and, for

Basics and, for instance, the BPI, and between Vinçotte and BPI to accept laboratory test reports from each other (mutual acceptance of laboratory test reports). The certification is granted for a certain product and the licence to use the certification mark is granted to the certificate owner. If necessary, sublicences can be issued to other companies wishing to sell the unchanged, already certified products in their own name [2]. Usually a certification process begins with an application using an application form. Based on the data given on the application form, Vinçotte, for example, sets up a contract proposal (price offer). If at this stage it is clear that the product will not pass the test programme Vinçotte will not propose a contract and the customer will be informed about their concerns. In the next step all necessary documents, such as test reports, Material Safety Data Sheets of the additives used, information on the composition of the product/material/ intermediate/additive, etc, are collected. None of the certifying bodies mentioned here has its own laboratories. Instead all products are tested in approved, independent laboratories and the test documentation is then evaluated. Exception: In addition to evaluating documents Vinçotte also takes its own infrared fingerprint (like the DNA of a certain formulation) and stores that in a database. Based on all these documents the conformity to the abovementioned international standards is assessed or evaluated by experts from the certification bodies (in case of ABA and Vinçotte) or, in the case of DIN CERTCO and the BPI, by external experts. The DIN CERTCO certification scheme is a modular certification scheme. It consists of the registration of materials (being given a 7W-number - W for ‘Werkstoff’ i.e. a material), intermediates (7H-number - H for ‘Halbzeug’ = intermediate) and biodegradable additives (7Z-number - Z for ‘Zusatzstoffe’ = additives). In general it simplifies the assessment and minimises the necessity of laboratory testing of final products that consist of materials or intermediates which are already registered by DIN CERTCO. The final product will then get a 7P-number. The seedling logo consists of 3 elements: the logo itself, the word ‘compostable’ in the language of the country and the 7P-number. After successful evaluation the ‘Certificate’ consisting of the certificate document, the certification assessment report and the license to use the logo will be given to the customer. In the case of Vinçotte , new clients receive a licensee-code (S code), which has to be shown on the logo. Monitoring and Verification After a product has once been certified it is important to ensure a continuing observation of the or chemical composition of the certified products. In the case of DIN CERTCO an annual verification process is proof of consistently high quality of a certified product. Vinçotte on the other hand randomly picks products from the market and verifies whether they are the same as the previously certified ones. Infrared spectra (fingerprints) of each certified resin or product and their comparison with the IR spectra registered in their databases serve the certification bodies for reidentification of the products taken for surveillance. Biobased Certification In brief, bioplastics can be biodegradable, biobased or both (see the definition of bioplastics in the glossary on page 48). While we have addressed biodegradability and compostability in the paragraphs above, we now have look at biobased plastics. The keen interest in biobased plastics can be summed up in one concept: carbon footprint. Biobased products help limit our carbon footprint, while making us less dependent on fossil fuels. For several years now a whole host of companies have been marketing bio-resources partly or entirely on the basis of biologically renewable carbon [4]. There are several approaches to certifying biobased products. The OK biobased certification of Vinçotte is based on radiocarbon analysis ( 12 C/ 14 C) which has previously been described in bioplastics MAGAZINE in detail (e.g. bM 01/2007). The number of stars in the OK biobased label tells the consumer about the content of modern carbon (based on the measurement of the 12 C/ 14 C ratio): 20 - 40% biobased material leads to one star, two stars for 40 - 60%, three for 60 - 80% and four stars over 80%. In the USA, the BioPreferred SM program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is kind of a certification system which is comprised of two parts: a preferred procurement program for Federal agencies and a voluntary labelling program for the broad scale marketing of biobased products [5]. “Currently, USDA has identified more than 19,000 commercially available biobased products, from cleaning to construction products,” said Ron Buckhalt, BioPreferred program manager. “Today, BioPreferred has designated more than 4,500 products from more than 1,000 manufacturers.” Under the procurement program, BioPreferred designates items (product categories) required for purchase by Federal agencies and the Department of Defense. As a part of the process, the minimum biobased content is specified and 44 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/10] Vol. 5

Basics information on the technical, health and environmental characteristics of these products are made available on the BioPreferred web site USDA defines biobased products as those products that are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. A BioPreferred designated product, is one that meets or exceeds USDA-established minimum biobased content requirements. Manufacturers and vendors of biobased products that meet minimum content standards can visit the web site to submit their products for designation and inclusion in the electronic BioPreferred catalog. “Primarily focused on the Federal government to date, BioPreferred is looking forward to adding the voluntary label to the program,” Buckhalt said. “We look at the new label as a tool that will help make these sustainable products more accessible and serve as valuable marketing for manufacturers and vendors of biobased products.” DIN CERTCO too will launch the certification scheme for biobased products in the near future. The certificate will be based on the content of biobased carbon ( 14 C-method) and the content of organic carbon (TOC-Content). There will be a division into three quality classifications that are shown by the “DIN-geprüft” (DIN tested) mark and that will illustrate the biobased-mass percentage classification. Last not least, the European Bioplastics association initiated a dialogue among a range of industry stakeholders for a common approach of the ‘biobased’ industry, aiming at providing a program suited for approval e.g. by the European Commission in the frame of the Lead Markets Initiative or by national governments. Thus, this joint program is meant as a basis for obtaining legal support for the certified products. It is close to finalization and will provide certification of the biobased material content also, in addition to the biobased carbon content all existing programs are focused on. Conclusion Certification according to international standards by independent and recognised certification bodies helps consumers and retailers to evaluate claims and to distinguish honest products from black sheep. All certifying bodies mentioned in this article offer online information about certified companies and/or products. If a company is listed in the bioplastics MAGAZINE Suppliers Guide, a link in the online-version of the Suppliers Guide to available online-information of the certificates helps to find these (see screenshot). Since Certification is quite an extensive topic, we concentrated in this article on European and North American systems. We will pick up the subject again in future issues, including a view to the Asian systems. Links in bioplastics MAGAZINE Online Suppliers Guide (screenshot) Acknowledgements: The author is grateful to Philippe Dewolfs, Vinçotte ; Lukas Willhauck, DIN CERTCO; Steve Mojo, BPI and Ron Buckhalt, USDA for their support in comprising this article. Note: All logos, labels, marks shown here are protected and may not be used without the permission of the owners. References: [1] www.bpiworld.org [2] Personal Information, Lukas Wilhauck, DIN CERTCO, 2010 [3] Personal Information, Philippe Dewolfs, Vinçotte, 2010 [4] New Eco-Label: OK biobased, bioplastics MAGAZINE 06/2009, p.9 [5] Personal Information, BioPreferred, USDA, 2010 [6] website of the Association for Organics Recycling (via www.bioplasticsmagazine. de/201002) www.dincertco.de www.okcompost.be www.okbiobased.be www.bpiworld.org www.biopreferred.gov bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/10] Vol. 5 45

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