Degradation and Toxicity

Protect the environment

Lab employee with soil.

Home composting

Manmade products, such as coffee pads or capsules, tea bags, or fruit stickers that end up in home composting should simply degrade without any negative effect on compost quality. Normec OWS performs degradation and environmental safety testing for home composting, which can be used for certification purposes, making public or legal claims, or for research & development. The standards for home compostability testing are directly based on those for industrial composting, since the two processes mainly differ in temperature and duration.

Why Normec OWS?
  • Independent laboratory
  • Recognized worldwide
  • Expert in the field

Biodegradation

Home composting occurs at ambient temperature, meaning a slower biochemical conversion of solid organic carbon to gaseous CO₂.

The certification requirement is therefore 90% carbon to CO₂ conversion at 28°C in one year. Besides certification conditions, we also offer testing under screening conditions.

This applies in cases of early research and when results will only be used internally.

Disintegration

For home composting, we offer both quantitative and qualitative disintegration testing. The certification requirement for quantitative testing is 90% disintegration of the material at 28°C in six months. As the disintegration process is strongly affected by the material’s thickness, grammage, and/or density, materials and products are certified up to a certain thickness only.

In some cases, it can therefore be prudent to test material samples of several different thicknesses first. The maximum thickness with the highest chance of success can then be selected for the ultimate disintegration test for certification. Similarly, different formulations can also be screened first.

Ecotoxicity

Ecotoxicity testing, to establish the potential toxic effect of residuals, for home composting is similar to industrial composting. Plant toxicity testing is part of all standards for industrial and home compostability and prescribes the use of two plant species.

Earthworm toxicity testing, however, is only required for AS 5810 certification in Australia. Ecotoxicity testing can be performed on different kinds of material, as well as intermediates, final products, inks, adhesives, varnishes, masterbatches, and additives.

Heavy metals & fluorine

Testing the chemical characteristics of the product, to quantify the heavy metals and fluorine, for home composting is similar to industrial composting. If the heavy metals and fluorine are above the threshold values stipulated in the standards, they could have a negative effect on the quality of the end product (compost).

Each standard has its own set of heavy metal limits, with EN 13432 and AS 4736/5810 being the most stringent.

Standards

The first standard for home composting was not published until 2010, in Australia, some ten years after the first standards for industrial composting were established.

The Australian standard for home composting (AS 5810) was based on the Australian standard for industrial composting (AS 4736). Our home composting tests cover all international and national standards, including AS 5810, NF T 51-800 and the EN standard to be published soon.

Certifications

Normec OWS is recognized by all of the certification bureaus below offering certification for home compostable materials and products. We can assist in performing the necessary tests and in providing the necessary guidance for the preparation of the dossier for certification:

  • Europe: TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium (OK Compost Home) and DIN CERTCO (DIN-Geprüft Home compostable)
  • Australia: ABA (Home compostable)
  • USA
  • And any other (national/regional) system around the world

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FAQ

All frequently asked questions
in a row

Is Normec OWS ISO 17025 accredited?

Yes, we are recognized by DIN CERTCO in line with ISO 17025. This accreditation covers all test procedures and standards with regard to compostability and biodegradation. Additionally, we are ISO 17025 accredited by BELAC for our compost analyses and also recognized by TÜV Austria. Normec OWS is also ISO 17020 accredited for inspection services and ISO 14001 approved for environmental management. View our recognitions & certificates.

Where is Normec OWS located?

Our main offices are located in Ghent, Belgium. We also have a subsidiary located in Kettering, Ohio to serve the needs of our American customers.

How long does testing take?

Testing duration depends on the specific type of test and the product itself. This can range from a couple of weeks for material characteristics testing, to months or even years for biodegradation testing. As these are microbial processes, we cannot predict the exact duration beforehand.