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Laboratory-scale accelerated disintegration of bioplastics

TUV Austria

For companies that need to evaluate different formulations, AIMPLAS has developed a new accelerated disintegration test to help carry out preliminary screening that makes it possible to select the formulations with the best results.

Once they are selected, laboratory-scale disintegration testing must be carried out in accordance with standard ISO 20200:2016 to ensure that the degree of disintegration complies with the requirements of the standard. AIMPLAS is accredited by ENAC to carry out this testing and is also recognized by the certifying body TÜV Austria. Disintegration testing is one of the four tests required to obtain OK Compost INDUSTRIAL certification.

What is disintegration testing?

Disintegration can be defined as a physical process involving the fragmentation of the plastic material in the final compost (absence of visual pollution). Disintegration is carried out in a composting process in which the solid matrix consists of synthetic solid waste inoculated with mature compost. At the end of the composting cycle, the disintegration degree is determined by sieving the final matrix to recover the plastic waste that has not disintegrated.

Methods for accelerated disintegration of bioplastics

To design this testing, methods to accelerate the disintegration of bioplastics were studied with a specific focus on enhancement of the disintegration medium, as well as changes in the solid matrix and, therefore, in microbial behaviour. For this purpose, two different agro-industrial additives were used to accelerate the process of recovering bioplastic waste: yeast and coffee.

The materials tested were biopolymer-based samples with different chemical and structural characteristics in order to determine if there was a correlation between the method developed and the sample evaluated. The results from application of the accelerate method were compared with the results obtained in the tests carried out in accordance with standard UNE-EN ISO 20200:2016.

After the evaluation of the two enhancement additives (yeast and coffee), it was found that the highest disintegration degree were obtained with compost-coffee and compost-coffee-yeast in a period of 30 days, which is less than the time required by the standard (3 months).