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Basics The Added Article

Basics The Added Article contributed by Jöran Reske Vice Chairman of European Bioplastics e.V. Bio-Plastics represent a new group of materials in the big family of plastics. The term is used for polymers that offer the new properties of being biodegradable in certain environments and/or coming from renewable resources. The term ‘Bio-plastics’ is not really accurate, because it is used for both of these (different) characteristics. Preferably we should speak of ‘biodegradable plastics’ and of ‘bio-based plastics’. Standards and certification systems serve to characterise these features, which are unique to ‘Bio-plastics’ as a new group of materials. Fig. 1 gives an overview of the interrelations of the two aspects. Biodegradability and Compostability are well defined by standards and certification Especially concerning biodegradability and, more precisely ‘compostability’, standards such as for example ISO 17088, EN 13432, EN 14995 and ASTM D-6400 have been developed. Testing according to these standards provides evidence that the respective material or product will biodegrade in a composting plant, without residues or harmful influences on either the process or the composted product. In order to verify and trace the compostability of end products, certification systems have been established e.g. by Din Certco and Vincotte in Europe, BPI in the US and JBPA in Japan. The respective ‘Seedling’ (EU), BPI and JBPA logos are being used for labelling and communicating such qualified products (for background information, please see the article by Prof. Narayan in bM 1/12009, pp. 28 – 31). Further information: ‘Bio-Plastics’ are: • Compostable according to the relevant standards: EN 13432, EN 14995; ISO 17088; ASTM D-6400 OR (and) • Made - at least in parts – from Renewable Raw Materials: ‘bio-based’ Bioplastics biodegradable plastics bio-based plastics Fig. 1: Interrelations of the two aspects of ‘biodegradability’ and ‘bio-based origin’ fossil resources compostable blends of renewable a.o. resources renewable resources blends of renewable a.o. resources non biodegradable 38 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/09] Vol. 4

Basics Value of ‘Bio-Plastics’ Considerations of the two aspects - „biodegradability“ and „bio-based origin“ The bio-based content can be quantified using C 14 analysis In contrast to the well regulated area of biodegradability and compostability testing and certification, such regulation is only in its infancy concerning the aspect of bio-based content of materials or products. An important achievement has been the development of ASTM D- 6866, an international standard describing test methods for the quantification of bio-based carbon content - namely by analysing the content of the carbon isotope C 14 and subsequently calculating the amount of carbon originating from renewable resources (i.e. ‘bio-based’) on the basis of the ratio of the isotopes C 14 and C 12 . A similar specification has been developed in Europe for the field of ‘Solid Recovered Fuels’: CEN TS 15747. Close cooperation between the American and the European experts has ensured that the basic definitions and contents of these norms are almost identical. Based on this expert cooperation, there are now efforts ongoing in Europe to compile a standard for the determination of the bio-based content of biopolymers. This work is performed within the standardization committee CEN TC 249 WG 17. Governmental programmes for the support of bio-based products Based on the analysis of the bio-based carbon content, support programmes for the market introduction of such products have been established in the U.S. (the ‘BioPreferred’ programme of USDA), and in Japan (the Biotechnology Strategy and the Green Purchasing Law). Europe started an initiative in 2008, known as the ‘Lead Market Initiative on bio-based products’. With this programme the EU Commission aims at harmonizing all of the legislation which is relevant to bio-based products. Further instruments, such as for example dedicated standards, certification and, potentially, labelling, are intended for the definition, communication and support of the product group. As in the U.S. and Japan, in the EU public procurement is also seen as one promising approach for increasing the demand for bio-based products. Industry has been invited to contribute to the development of the Lead Market Initiative by proposing concepts through an advisory group and several subgroups (on Legislation, on Standards and on ‘Supportive Instruments’). Many activities have been focused recently on the development of standards for the determination of bio-based content, as for example the above mentioned activities within CEN. The approval of such standards will add a fundamental piece to legal support programmes, as the new product group becomes more tangible. The standards will also provide a cornerstone for certification programmes dedicated to the biobased (carbon) content of materials and products. Bio-based content certification needs a common and harmonized set of criteria Based on the standards for the determination of biobased (carbon) content, the development of producerindependent certification systems will be a further very important contribution to market development. Only if claims such as “This product contains x % bio-based carbon“ can be substantiated on the basis of standardized determination, as well as independent verification and tracing in the market place, will those products be bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/09] Vol. 4 39

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