EN13432, dating from 2002, is a harmonized standard of the European Committee for Standardization, relating to the characteristics that a material must have in order to be qualified as biodegradable or compostable. The term “compostable” refers to standards related to the non-toxicity of a decomposed material in the event that it is released into the wild.
This standard is entitled “Characteristics of packaging recoverable by composting and biodegradation – Test schemes and evaluation criteria for the final acceptance of packaging”.
Among the objectives of the standard is the desire to clearly define concepts that are increasingly diffuse but not always very explicit, such as: biodegradation, compostability, biodegradable and compostable materials.
According to standard EN13432, a material can be qualified as “compostable”, if it has the following characteristics:
– be able to reach 90% biodegradation in less than 6 months if it is subjected to an environment rich in carbon dioxide; these values are tested with the standard method EN14046 (also called ISO14855);
– when it is brought into contact with organic waste for 3 months, the mass of material must consist of at least 90% of residues less than 2 mm in diameter; these values are tested with the standard method EN14045;
– the material must not have any negative effects on the composting process;
– a low concentration of heavy metals;
– pH values within the established limits;
– a content of mineral salts within the established limits;
– a concentration of volatile solid elements within the established limits;
– a concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium within the established limits.