This document specifies a method, by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide evolved, for the determination of the degree of aerobic biodegradability of plastic materials, including those containing formulation additives. The test material is exposed in a synthetic medium under standardized laboratory conditions to an inoculum from activated sludge, mature compost or soil under aerobic, mesophilic conditions.
If an unadapted activated sludge is used as the inoculum, the test result can be used to assess the aerobic biodegradation processes which occur in a waste water treatment plant environment. If a mixed or pre-exposed inoculum is used, the method can be used to investigate the potential biodegradability of a test material.
The conditions used in this document do not necessarily correspond to the optimum conditions allowing maximum biodegradation to occur, but this test method is designed to measure the biodegradation of plastic materials and give an indication of their potential biodegradability.
The method enables the assessment of the biodegradation to be improved by calculating a carbon balance (optional, see Annex C).
The method applies to the following materials:
— natural and/or synthetic polymers, copolymers or mixtures thereof;
— plastic materials which contain additives such as plasticizers, colorants or other compounds;
— water-soluble polymers;
— materials which, under the test conditions, do not inhibit the microorganisms present in the inoculum. Inhibitory effects can be determined using an inhibition control or by another appropriate method (see, for example, ISO 8192). If the test material is inhibitory to the inoculum, a lower test concentration, another inoculum or a pre-exposed inoculum can be used.