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ISO 20200: Determination of the Degree of Disintegration of Plastic Materials under Composting Conditions

ISO 20200 specifies a method of determining the degree of disintegration of plastic materials when exposed to a laboratory-scale composting environment. The method is not applicable to the determination of the biodegradability of plastic materials under composting conditions. Further testing is necessary to be able to claim compostability.

ISO 20200 is also widely used as part of ASTM D6400 for labeling of plastics.

For the disintegration under a pilot-scale composting environment, please refer to ISO 16929.

ISO 20200 Key Summary

The method assesses the extent of breakdown of test materials in a laboratory setting, replicating the conditions of a vigorous aerobic composting process. The testing involves a synthetic solid waste matrix infused with mature compost sourced from either a municipal or industrial composting facility. Plastic test pieces are then composted within this formulated solid matrix for normally 45 to 90 days at 58 °C. Following a composting cycle, the degree of breakdown is determined by sifting the resulting matrix through a 2 mm sieve to retrieve any remaining undecomposed residues. The reduction in the test sample's mass is regarded as disintegrated material, serving as the basis for calculating the extent of disintegration.

▶ Materials that can be tested:
     ➢ Plastics and many other types of materials;
▶ Synthetic solid waste: 55% of water content and C/N of 20:1 to 40:1. Composition by dry mass:
     ➢ Sawdust (40%);
     ➢ Rabbit-feed (30%);
     ➢ Ripe compost (up to 4 months old, 10%);
     ➢ Corn starch (10%);
     ➢ Saccharose (5%);
     ➢ Cornseed oil (4%);
     ➢ Urea (1%) .
▶ Composting reactor: 30 cm × 20 cm × 10 cm (l, w, h) with 5 mm holes on the two 20 cm wide sides;
▶ Number of reactors: 3 for each test substance;
▶ Test substance size: 25 x 25 x thickness (thickness < 5 mm), or 15 x 15 x thickness (5mm < thickness < 15 mm);
▶ Test substance dosage: 5-20 g per 1 kg of wet synthetic waste;
▶ Testing conditions:
     ➢ Temperature: 58 °C ± 2 °C;
     ➢ Frequent mixing and watering;
▶ Duration: 45-90 days.
▶ Measurement: sieve the mixtures after composting with 10 mm, 5 mm, and 2 mm sieves to collect the remaining test substance. Wash and dry the test substance and determine its weight;
▶ Test validity criteria:
     ➢ Decrease in volatile-solids content is over 30%;
     ➢ The degrees of disintegration for the three replicates shall not differ by more than 20 %;

▶ When ISO 20200 is used as part of ASTM D6400, a plastic product is considered to have demonstrated satisfactory disintegration if after twelve weeks (84 days) in a controlled composting test, no more than 10 % of its original dry weight remains after sieving on a 2.0-mm sieve.

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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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