Biobased means that the material or product is (partly) derived from plant. Biomass used for bioplastics stems from e.g. corn, sugarcane, or cellulose.
Biodegradation is the chemical dissolution of materials by bacteria, fungi, or other biological means. Although often conflated, biodegradable is distinct in meaning from compostable. While biodegradable simply means to be consumed by microorganism, "compostable" makes the specific demand that the object break down under composting conditions.
Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. To quantify as a compostable plastic, it has to adhere strictly to ASTM 6400 or EN 13432 standard which specifies the conditions.
So what are the differences?
The three main groups. Top Left Quadrant Biobased or partly biobased non-biodegradable plastic such as green PE, PP or PET (drop-ins) and biobased technical performance polymers such as PTT or TPC-ET. Top Right Quadrant Plastics that are both biobased and biodegradable, such as PLA, PHA, PBS or starch blends.
Bottom Left Quadrant Conventional fossil fuel based plastic bag. Bottom Right Quadrant Plastic that are based on fossil resources but biodegradable such as PBAT, PCL and some PLA.
Therefore: (1) Not all biobased are biodegradable, likewise not all biodegradable are biobased. (2) All compostable are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable are compostable. (3) Top Right Quadrant is also known as Biobased-Biodegradable, which where Greenware Products fall into.
What are the benefits of Biobased-Biodegradable?
How to identify these products?
There are two standards in governing these biodegradable products published by SIRIM in Malaysia under: SIRIM ECO 001:2016 : Eco Labelling Criteria - Biodegradable/Compostable/Starch Based Plastic Packaging Materials SIRIM ECO 009-2016 : Eco Labelling Criteria - Biodegradable/Compostable/Starch Based Products for Food Contact Application For more information, you can obtain it from SIRIM website at http://www.sirim.my/
What are the test out there?
To test for Biobased Carbon Content ASTM D6866-16 : Standard Test Methods for Determining the Biobased Content of Solid, Liquid and Gaseous Samples Using Radiocarbon Analysis Most commonly used is Method B - Accelerated Mass Spectroscopy (AMS)
To test for Starch Content QB/T 2957-2008 - Determination of starch content of starch based plastics Thermogravimetry (TG) or ISO 11358 : 1997 - Thermogravimetry (TG) of Polymers A test specimen is heated at a constant rate with a controlled temperature programme, and the change in mass is measured as a function of temperature. Alternatively, the specimen is kept at a given constant temperature and the change in mass is measured as a function of time over a given period.
In general, the reactions which cause the mass of a test specimen to change are decomposition or oxidation reactions or the volatilization of a component. The change in mass is recorded as a TG curve.
To test for Compostable ASTM D 6400 or EN 13432 Description of requirements to pass ASTM D 6400: To be considered "compostable" by either ASTM D 6400 or EN 13432, the product must demonstrate the three following conditions:
(1) Disintegration After starting with the product cut into 2cm lengths, in 60 days of composting under laboratory controlled composting conditions, 90% of the specimen must pass a 2mm sieve.
(2) Biodegradation 90% of the organic carbon must be converted to carbon dioxide in 180 days, when compared to the positive control (cellulose).
(3) No Adverse Effects on the Quality of the Compost Plant Growth - The germination rate and the plant biomass of the sample composts shall be no less than 90% that of the corresponding blank compost for two different plant species following OECD Guideline with the modifications found in Annex E of EN 13432.