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Basics A certain number

Basics A certain number of products made of bioplastics are already available in the market. Almost all of them are labelled with some kind of a logo that tells the consumer about the special character of the plastics material used. These logos and their background are introduced by bioplastics MAGAZINE in this series. Here questions such as: What is the origin and history of a logo? What does it mean? Which rules are involved with it? will be adressed. Logos Part 3: The “OK Compost” The history of the “OK Compost” logo goes back to the early 1990s, when the Belgian port city of Antwerp opened a tendering procedure for the supply of compostable bags for collecting garden waste. As some of the applicants came up with somewhat „quaint“ ideas, the city turned to Vinçotte (formerly AIB-Vinçotte) in Brussels with the question: „How can we be sure that the bags on offer are genuinely compostable?“ Therefore, Vinçotte, an independent organisation employing over 1,800 people worldwide, developed the “OK Compost” conformity mark. Market demand The “OK Compost” conformity mark is the response to a demand made by a city of one million people. The distribution chains soon took over, leading to a fast-growing interest, while helping to boost the mark‘s appeal and raise its profile. Needed: A clear and universally understandable logo “Several surveys have shown that even people not familiar with the „OK Compost“ logo recognise what it means when they see it,” says Philippe Dewolfs, Manager of the Product Certification Dept., of Vinçotte. This offers several advantages. The logo gets the message across in every language, without the need for huge efforts to educate the customer. An independent organisation already in existence Vinçotte as the certifying body was not created ad hoc. The company offers inspection, certification and testing services in many different fields. Its independent status and expertise are internationally acknowledged. A single reference: EN 13432 From the outset Vinçotte adopted a European approach. The certification of compostable packaging material strictly follows the rules of the European standard EN 13432 (compostability of packaging). „OK Compost“ = EN 13432, no more, no less”, as Philippe Dewolfs comments, “This slogan also sends out a strong message as to the reliability of a product: no need to have to consult the report to discover what references and methods are used.” „OK Compost“ certificates are accepted by international agencies, such as BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute), USA, AFNOR, France, and others without requiring any further trials or analyses. Philippe Dewolfs: “Independence, clarity, visibility and traceability are at the root of the growing success of the „OK Compost“ logo. The number of certificates has increased threefold and the number of licensees fivefold within only five years.” „OK Compost HOME”: keeping waste at bay In countries like Belgium and the UK, more and more peo- 40 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/07] Vol. 2

Basics logo of Vinçotte, Belgium ple are composting their green waste in their backyard. Temperatures specified in the EN 13432 standard are not reached during home composting, hence products complying with this standard might not be suitable for home composting. Vinçotte has therefore sought to revamp the EN 13432 standard‘s requirements to use it for the determination of the home compostability for such products. The result is the „OK Compost HOME“ mark, that has already been awarded to several products during its three-year existence. “But the most amazing development is that even though no more than 10% of the people asked actually knew the logo, 78% of the people interviewed understood exactly what it meant,” as Philippe Dewolfs proudly adds. “OK Compost” - a logo with a guarantee Looking beyond the initial certification process, a conformity mark also has to guarantee that production is in keeping with the requirements. This means: • Are the products on the market identical to those originally certified? and • Are all the products „declaring“ their compliance with the mark genuinely certified? Periodical inspections, sampling in the marketplace or at the supplier‘s end ensure the first question. The second question is now a lot easier to answer as a result of the growing trend to rely on the Internet to market products. Vinçotte regularly checks out cyber advertisements and all referring to „OK Compost“ (about 1000 reference at present) are seriously scrutinised. If the „OK Compost“ mark is being misused or likely to cause confusion, Vinçotte react straightaway so as to safeguard the mark‘s integrity and credibility. “Clear logo, visibility, single reference, expertise, independence and market surveillance – all of these items should be the basic ingredients of any conformity mark,” as Philippe Dewolfs summarizes. “This is the case with the „OK Compost“ category, all in the service of promoting new producer and consumer behaviour patterns.” all pictures: Vinçotte bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/07] Vol. 2 41

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