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British Standards Institute issues new UK standard for biodegradable plastic

Sadiyah Ismailjee
05 October 2020

Plastic will have to break down into organic matter and carbon dioxide in the open air within two years to be classed as biodegradable under a new UK standard being introduced by the British Standards Institute.

Plastic products, including cosmetics, that claim to be biodegradable, must be able to verify their claims in real-world conditions.

90% of the organic carbon contained in plastic needs to be converted into carbon dioxide within 730 days to meet the new BSI standard, which has been introduced following confusion over the meaning of biodegradability.

Plastic packaging that claims to be biodegradable can now be verified through this new benchmark from the British Standards Institution.

The standard, titled PAS 9017 Plastics – Biodegradation of polyolefins in an open-air terrestrial environment– Specification, examines whether the plastic breaks down into a harmless wax, that does not contain hazardous chemicals, under real-world soil conditions within two years.

The new PAS 9017 standard does not include freshwater, marine, landfill and anaerobic environments of biodegradation.

The BSI said this is the very first standard which measures the biodegradability of polyolefins, a popular plastic used regularly in cosmetic packaging.

Director of Standards at BSI, Scott Steedman, said: “Tackling the global challenge of plastic waste requires imagination and innovation."

"New ideas need agreed, publicly available, independent standards to enable the delivery of trusted solutions by industry."

"PAS 9017 is the first stakeholder consensus on how to measure the biodegradability of polyolefins which will accelerate the verification of technologies for plastic biodegradation."


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