Assessing compostability and biodegradation: Ensuring the sustainability of materials through testing

Jordi Palau, Head of the Compostability Laboratory

In a world increasingly aware of the need to adopt sustainable practices, companies committed to compostable materials play a crucial role. However, it is essential that these materials meet appropriate standards of compostability and biodegradability. To achieve this, extensive testing is required to assess their suitability for composting in both industrial and domestic processes. In addition, tests that assess biodegradability in specific environments, such as soil, also come into play.

Keep reading this article if you want to know how to achieve this. We will tell you:

1. The Importance of Compostability and Biodegradability Assessment: Driving your Product towards a Sustainable Future

2. Worldwide Compostability Certifications: Gain International Recognition

3. Stages of Compostability Testing: Find out if your Material Meets the Standards

4. Applications of Compostability Testing: From Bags to Packaging, a Sustainable Solution

5. An Ally in Compostability Assessment

6. Soil Biodegradability

Ensayos de compostabilidad

1. The importance of compostability and biodegradation assessment: Driving your product towards a sustainable future

At ITENE we understand the importance of compostability and biodegradation assessment in the development of sustainable materials. Our aim is to ensure that materials, additives, intermediates and end products can be recovered through compostability and obtain the most relevant certifications worldwide, such as the TÜV Austria, DIN CERTCO, BPI, European Bioplastics, ABA (Australasian Bioplastics Association) and REAL (Compostable Materials Certification Scheme) seals.

To achieve this, our laboratories are accredited according to the international quality standard UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17025:2017. This ensures that our results are accurate and reliable, providing our customers with the peace of mind of having a rigorous and objective assessment of the compostability of their materials.



2. Worldwide compostability certifications: Gain international recognition

Which compostability certifications can be obtained through our test reports? We work with the industrial compostability seals of TÜV Austria, DIN CERTCO, BPI, European Bioplastics, ABA and REAL, as well as the household compostability seals of TÜV Austria, DIN CERTCO, ABA and REAL. These certifications are internationally recognised and provide a solid guarantee of the compostability of the tested materials.

Industrial compostability
Home compostability

3. Stages of compostability testing: Find out if your material meets the standards

At ITENE, we were the first centre in Spain to be accredited by ENAC to carry out compostability tests in all four phases, in accordance with the UNE-EN 13432 standard. This means that we can carry out all the stages necessary to assess the compostability of a material:

Material characterisation: We determine the organic matter content and the levels of regulated metals and other hazardous substances in the assessed material. This stage is essential to understand the composition and potential influence on the compostability process.

Biodegradation: We measure the biodegradation levels of the product, material, intermediate or additive under controlled conditions. This allows us to determine the ability of the material to decompose naturally in the expected time.

Disintegration: We test the physical disappearance of the material through pilot and laboratory-scale compostability tests. This phase assesses whether the material breaks down into smaller particles and mixes adequately with other organic materials during composting.

Compost quality: We analyse the physicochemical properties of the compost obtained and perform toxicity tests on plants. This stage evaluates whether the resulting compost is of high quality and safe for use in agricultural or gardening activities


4. Applications of compostability testing: From bags to packaging, a sustainable solution

envases compostables para cosmética

Our compostability tests can be applied to a wide range of additives and products, such as bags, packaging and single-use utensils. They are also suitable for different types of materials, especially cellulosic or plastic materials. In the case of plastic materials, these tests will allow you to verify whether they comply with the European circular economy strategy, which states that all plastic packaging placed on the EU market must be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2030.

5. An ally in compostability assessment

How do we work at ITENE? Our approach is based on three key steps:

Documentary analysis: We assess the composition of the material through a thorough analysis of the documentation provided. This allows us to understand its structure and properties, and to determine the specific tests to be performed.

Testing proposal: We prepare a detailed proposal that includes the necessary tests on a case-by-case basis, such as material characterisation, biodegradation, disintegration and final compost quality. This proposal is adapted to the specific needs of each client.

Testing and certification reports: We carry out the relevant tests and issue the necessary reports to obtain industrial or domestic certification seals. Our reports provide accurate and reliable data on the compostability and biodegradation of the tested material, backed by our accreditation and experience.

Why choose ITENE for your compostability testing? Our experience and commitment to quality set us apart:

Prompt response: We are committed to responding within 48 hours for enquiries and requests for new tests, providing an efficient service without unnecessary delays.

Proven experience: We have performed more than 250 compostability testing services since 2017, demonstrating our experience and expertise in the field. More than a hundred companies have trusted us to assess the compostability of their materials.

Specialised team: We have a team of highly qualified doctors and researchers in the area of compostability and biodegradation. Their experience and knowledge ensure the quality and accuracy of our tests.

Our equipment and facilities: We have state-of-the-art equipment and modern facilities that allow us to carry out compostability tests with the highest quality standards.

ENAC accreditation: We were the first centre in Spain to be accredited by ENAC to carry out compostability tests in all four phases, by the UNE-EN 13432 standard. This accreditation guarantees the reliability and validity of our results.

Eleven industrial and domestic certification schemes: With our test reports issued by ITENE, you will be eligible for the eleven certification schemes we work with, giving you a wide range of options to demonstrate the compostability of your materials.

6. Soil biodegradability

ITENE can also determine the environmental impact on soil, as it is recognised by TÜV AUSTRIA to carry out tests with the OK Biodegradable SOIL mark. Thanks to this, it can carry out tests for biodegradation, ecotoxicity, heavy metals and fluorine.

At ITENE, we are committed to advancing sustainability and the circular economy by rigorously assessing the compostability and biodegradability of materials. Our testing and certification give you the confidence and credibility to ensure your products meet the highest environmental standards.

Check out our compostability testing services and join us in building a more sustainable future.

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    Jordi Palau
    Jordi Palau

    Head of the Compostability Laboratory

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