2021 Update on Australian and NZ Compostable Certifications

Home Compostable Certification AS 5810 – 2010

According to the Australian Standards for home composting, the certification AS 5810 requires for the compostable products to disintegrate after 180 days and completely biodegrade after 12 months in a home compost.

That means that 90 percent or more of the product material will have been converted to CO2. The remaining share is converted into water and biomass – i.e. valuable compost. Compost is used as a soil improver and can in part also replace mineral fertilisers

Compostable products that are tested and certified according to the Australian Standards for home composting AS5810 must fulfil specific technical requirements.

 

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Requirements:

  • minimum of 90% biodegradation of plastic materials within 180 days in compost
  • minimum of 90% of plastic materials should disintegrate into less than 2mm pieces in compost within 12 weeks
  • no toxic effect of the resulting compost on plants and earthworms
  • hazardous substances such as heavy metals should not be present above the maximum allowed levels
  • plastic materials should contain more than 50% organic materials.

Disposal:

Anywhere there is oxygen and microorganism: a home compost, a garden, a green bin, even landfill depending on the conditions as all landfills are different.

Home composting conditions vary from the products simply being buried in soil to well managed home composting conditions with regular turning and maintenance of moisture levels. Under the latter conditions, AS5810 certified home compostable products will disintegrate and biodegrade well within the time frames included in AS5810, at the same rate as would other organic matter like food scraps.

Industrially Compostable Certification AS 4736 – 2006 (also known as Commercially Compostable)

 

 

According to the Australian Standards for commercial composting, the certification AS 4736 requires for the compostable products to disintegrate after 12 weeks and completely biodegrade after 6 months in a dedicated composting facility.

 

 

If a plastic material claims to be biodegradable and compostable in Australia, it must comply at least with Australian standard AS 4736‐2006. This standard provides assessment criteria for plastic materials that are to be biodegraded in municipal and commercial aerobic composting facilities. This Australian standard is similar to the widely known European EN 13432 standard, but has an additional requirement of a worm test.

Commercially compostable products are the most common in the market. They often don’t specify if they are commercially or home compostable and often go as “compostable product” which can be misleading

Commercially compostable products that are tested and certified according to the Australian Standards for commercial or industrial composting AS 4736 must fulfil the same specific technical requirements as above.

Compostable certifications association.

Requirements:

  • minimum of 90% biodegradation of plastic materials within 180 days in compost
  • minimum of 90% of plastic materials should disintegrate into less than 2mm pieces in compost within 12 weeks
  • no toxic effect of the resulting compost on plants and earthworms
  • hazardous substances such as heavy metals should not be present above the maximum allowed levels
  • plastic materials should contain more than 50% organic materials.

Disposal:

An industrial composting facility via the FOGO/green bin collection (Food Organic Green Organic) that accept them.

Currently, only 30% of Councils provide access to a FOGO/green bin collection and a small percentage of them accept food packaging. (APCO Report on National Compostable Packaging Strategy 2021)

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About the author:

Marion is a French entrepreneur, profoundly interested in the composting industry. Her words are her own thoughts and come from her research and learning. Although she quotes and sources the information she shares, Marion is not a scientist or a researcher and her opinions should not be understood as a scientific truth.

Through her findings and experience in the industry, she is attempting to support hospitality businesses and producers in their search of alternative choices to single-use and other types of plastic packaging. You should always do your own research to best inform yourself.

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