The EN 13432 (European) industrial standard is arguably the most international in scope and compliance with this standard is required to claim that a product is compostable in the European marketplace. In summary, it requires biodegradation of 90% of the materials in a commercial composting unit within 180 days. The ASTM 6400 standard is the regulatory framework for the United States and sets a less stringent threshold of 60% biodegradation within 180 days, again within commercial composting conditions. The AS 4736 (Australia) is considered the most stringent certification as it requires 90% biodegradation within 180 days and incorporates “the Worm test”. It is anticipated that this standard will eventually be adopted universally as it best encompasses the “biodegradability” philosophy.
The “compostable” marking found on many items of packaging in Australia DOES NOT indicate that the package complies with any of the three standards mentioned above. Additivated (d2w) plastics sold as photodegradable or Oxo Biodegradable or typically advertised as “degradable” do not comply with these standards in their current form.