Degradation and Toxicity

Protect the environment

Flasks with soil.

Soil degradation

Different kinds of man-made material can end up in soil either through unintended or intended use. Mulch film, plant pots, fertilizer coating, and body bags, for example, are purposeful products for which biodegradability offers big benefits. Normec OWS offers different types of soil degradation testing to determine the (bio)degradation, chemical characteristics, and ecotoxicity of materials in accordance with the available standards.

Why Normec OWS?

  • Independent laboratory
  • Recognized worldwide
  • Expert in the field

Testing purposes

The soil degradation test results can be used for different purposes, including certification, making marketing or legal claims, or for supporting research & development. For certification purposes, our testing is performed in accordance with the available standards, as required by the existing certificates.

In Europe, these include DIN CERTCO – Biodegradable in Soil (based on EN 17033) and TÜV AUSTRIA – OK Biodegradable Soil. Both certificates require biodegradation in soil, heavy metals & fluorine, and ecotoxicity testing.


Soil is a less aggressive environment than industrial or home composting. The certification requirement for biodegradation in soil, in accordance with the ISO 17556 and ASTM D5988 standards, is therefore 90% carbon to CO₂ conversion at 25°C in two years. Besides certification conditions, we also offer testing under screening conditions for research and development purposes.

For disintegration testing, we offer both quantitative and qualitative testing. Quantitative testing, under certification conditions, determines how the material breaks down into smaller pieces. Qualitative testing, under screening conditions, visually shows how a product breaks down and can be used to test the effect of different product thicknesses.

Soil quality

By testing the chemical characteristics of the product, we can quantify the heavy metals and fluorine contained. If these are above threshold values as stipulated in the EN 13432 standard, they could have a negative effect on the soil quality after biodegradation.

Any toxic effect of residuals, which are left behind after biodegradation, could potentially have a damaging effect on the soil ecosystem. We offer different kinds of ecotoxicity tests, including plant, worm, nitrification toxicity testing, and microbial toxicity testing, in accordance with the available standards, to evaluate this.


Plant toxicity testing, for example, in accordance with the OECD 208 test method, prescribes the use of three plant species and can be performed on different kinds of materials, as well as intermediates, final products, inks, adhesives, varnishes, masterbatches, and additives.

Earthworm toxicity testing, which is required for the certification of mulch films, for example, is done in accordance with the OECD 207 test method.

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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.