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ASTM D6400: Labeling of Plastics Designed to be Aerobically Composted in Municipal or Industrial Facilities

ASTM D6400 is a standard specification that outlines the requirements for compostable plastics or many other types of solid materials. Specifically, ASTM D6400 provides guidelines for the biodegradation, disintegration, and compostability of plastic materials in aerobic municipal and industrial composting facilities.

This standard establishes criteria for plastic materials and products to be considered compostable, meaning they can undergo a biological degradation process during composting that is similar to the degradation of organic materials. ASTM D6400 sets forth parameters for evaluating the extent to which a plastic material breaks down under composting conditions and ensures that it does not leave behind harmful residues.

Products that meet the requirements outlined in ASTM D6400 can be labeled and marketed as "compostable in municipal or industrial aerobic facilities" in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Federal Trade Commission as long as proper qualifications as to the availability of such facilities are included on the label. This standard is particularly relevant for environmentally conscious industries seeking to minimize their environmental impact by using materials that are designed to degrade naturally within composting systems.

ASTM D6400 is equivalent to ISO 17088.

ASTM D6400 Key Summary

Below are the three major requirements set by ASTM D6400:
     (1) 90% disintegration during composting per standard ISO 16929 or ISO 20200;
     (2) 90% biodegradation per standard ASTM D5338 or ISO 14855 (composting);
     (3) No adverse impacts on ability of compost to support plant growth:
          a.  Test substance shall have concentrations of regulated metals less than 50 % of those prescribed for sludges or composts in the country where the product is sold;
          b.  Over 90% of germination rate and plant biomass of the resulted composts, per standard OECD 208 with modifications found in Annex E of EN 13432.
          c. Over 50% of volatile organic solids content.

At Aropha, we perform ISO 20200 (12 weeks), ISO 14855 (45 days to 6 months), OECD 208 (14-21 days), and metal analysis to fulfill the ASTM D6400 requirements.
▶ Materials that can be tested:
     ➢ Plastics and many other types of solid materials;
     ➢ Materials that contain at least 50% volatile organic solids.

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To learn more about different types of biodegradation tests, their applicability, biodegradation mechanisms, and many other information such as case studies, publications, and blogs, please check our Aropha Resource Center

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