ASTM D5338 - 11

    Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under Controlled Composting Conditions, Incorporating Thermophilic Temperatures

    Active Standard ASTM D5338 | Developed by Subcommittee: D20.96

    Book of Standards Volume: 08.03


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    Significance and Use

    Biodegradation of a plastic within a composting unit is an important phenomenon because it may affect the decomposition of other materials enclosed by the plastic and the resulting quality and appearance of the composted material. Biodegradation of plastics will also allow the safe disposal of these plastics through large, professionally-managed composting plants and well-run residential units, where thermophilic temperatures are achieved. This procedure has been developed to permit the determination of the rate and degree of aerobic biodegradability of plastic products when placed in a controlled composting process.

    LimitationsBecause there is a wide variation in the construction and operation of composting facilities and because regulatory requirements for composting systems vary, this procedure is not intended to simulate the environment of any particular composting system. However, it is expected to resemble the environment of a composting process operated under optimum conditions where thermophilic temperatures are achieved. More specifically, the procedure is intended to create a standard laboratory environment that will permit a rapid and reproducible determination of the aerobic biodegradability under controlled composting conditions.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method determines the degree and rate of aerobic biodegradation of plastic materials on exposure to a controlled-composting environment under laboratory conditions, at thermophilic temperatures. This test method is designed to yield reproducible and repeatable test results under controlled conditions that resemble composting conditions, where thermophilic temperatures are achieved. The test substances are exposed to an inoculum that is derived from compost from municipal solid waste. The aerobic composting takes place in an environment where temperature, aeration and humidity are closely monitored and controlled.

    Note 1—During composting, thermophilic temperatures are most readily achieved in large-scale, professionally-managed facilities. However, these temperatures may also be reached in smaller residential composting units, frequently referred to as backyard or home composting.

    1.2 This test method is designed to yield a percentage of conversion of carbon in the sample to carbon dioxide. The rate of biodegradation is monitored as well.

    1.3 This test method is designed to be applicable to all plastic materials, which are intended to be composted in facilities that achieve thermophilic temperatures.

    1.4 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard.

    1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. Specific hazard statements are given in Section 8.

    1.6 This test method is equivalent to ISO 14855.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D618 Practice for Conditioning Plastics for Testing

    D883 Terminology Relating to Plastics

    D1293 Test Methods for pH of Water

    D2908 Practice for Measuring Volatile Organic Matter in Water by Aqueous-Injection Gas Chromatography

    D3590 Test Methods for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen in Water

    D4129 Test Method for Total and Organic Carbon in Water by High Temperature Oxidation and by Coulometric Detection

    E260 Practice for Packed Column Gas Chromatography

    E355 Practice for Gas Chromatography Terms and Relationships

    APHA--AWWA--WPCF Standards

    2540E Fixed and Volatile Solids Ignited at 550C

    ISO Standard

    ISO14855 Plastics--Evaluation of the Ultimate Aerobic Biodegradability and Disintegration Under Controlled Composting Conditions--Method by Analysis of Released Carbon Dioxide Available from American National Standards Institute (ANSI), 25 W. 43rd St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10036, http://www.ansi.org.


    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 13100000(Rubber and elastomers)


    Referencing This Standard

    DOI: 10.1520/D5338-11

    ASTM International is a member of CrossRef.

    Citation Format

    ASTM D5338-11, Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under Controlled Composting Conditions, Incorporating Thermophilic Temperatures, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2011, www.astm.org

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