OK biodegradable


There is more than meets the eye in "biodegradation"! An entire army of microorganisms attacks the material to be broken down and the army differs according to the environment (the specific temperature, moisture content, pH, supply of oxygen, etc.) where biodegradation occurs.

A product's application determines the ideal biodegradation environment. Accordingly, Belgium has already introduced a law to decide that packaging may not be presented as biodegradable. After all, the idea is not to have packaging spread around on a massive scale like litter because it is "biodegradable". TUV AUSTRIA's specialists support the idea of this legislation – applied only in Belgium for the time being – and are able to specify the correct biodegradation environment for your products thanks to their verification marks.

New since March 2015: OK biodegradable MARINE

Considering the fact that most of the marine debris is land based, marine biodegradability is an added value to any product or packaging regardless of where it is consumed. The chance that it eventually lands up at sea will always exist. Any supplier who invests in adding this functionality to his product or packaging should have the opportunity to have this information verified according to international standards - without however encouraging the consumer to litter at sea or anywhere.

This verification is not only a reference to harmonize the claim but also offers the supplier the opportunity to distinguish his truly marine biodegradable product from any doubtful claim of his competitors.

OK biodegradable SOIL

Biodegradability in the soil offers huge benefits for agricultural and horticultural products, as they can be left to break down in situ after being used. The OK biodegradable SOIL label is a guarantee a product will completely biodegrade in the soil without adversely affecting the environment.

OK biodegradable WATER

Products certified for OK Biodegradable WATER guarantee biodegradation in a natural fresh water environment, and thus substantially contribute to the reduction of waste in rivers, lakes or any natural fresh water. Note that this not automatically guarantees biodegradation in marine waters.

List of certified products >>


Is there any difference between "biodegradable" and "compostable"?

People often get “biodegradable” and “compostable” mixed up but they do not mean the same thing. A biodegradable product may be broken down by microorganisms but this does not necessarily imply that the product can be converted into good quality compost.
Biodegradability and compostability rely heavily on the environment where the product is broken down. As each environment (compost, soil, water, …) has different temperatures and microorganisms the speed of the biodegradation process may vary from one site to another.
For example, bioplastics which are biodegradable in an industrial composting plant (the most aggressive atmosphere regime) are not always biodegradable in water or soil, or even in a compost bin in the garden (owing to the lower temperatures).

What tests are required to qualify for an OK biodegradable SOIL certificate?

In addition to a clear and detailed product description, three tests are required:

  • test on biodegradation (chemical break down of the polymer)
  • test on ecotoxicity (test if the composted product does not exert any negative effect on plants)
  • test on heavy metals content
What tests are required to qualify for an OK biodegradable WATER certificate?

In addition to a clear and detailed product description, the following test is required:

  • test on biodegradation (chemical break down of the polymer)

Important remark : As heavy metals are submitted to local regulations, it is necessary to verify that the level of heavy metals of this certified product does not exceed the concentrations admitted in the region where it is sold.

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