ASTM D5511 - 12

    Standard Test Method for Determining Anaerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under High-Solids Anaerobic-Digestion Conditions

    Active Standard ASTM D5511 | Developed by Subcommittee: D20.96

    Book of Standards Volume: 08.03


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    ASTM D5511

    Significance and Use

    Biodegradation of a plastic within a high-solids anaerobic digestion unit is an important phenomenon because it will affect the decomposition of other waste materials enclosed by the plastic and the resulting quality and appearance of the digestate after an anaerobic digestion process. Biodegradation of plastics could allow for the safe disposal of these plastics through aerobic and anaerobic solid-waste-treatment plants. This procedure has been developed to permit the determination of the rate and degree of anaerobic biodegradability of plastic products when placed in a high-solids anaerobic digester for the production of digestate from municipal solid waste.

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

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method covers the determination of the degree and rate of anaerobic biodegradation of plastic materials in high-solids anaerobic conditions. The test materials are exposed to a methanogenic inoculum derived from anaerobic digesters operating only on pretreated household waste. The anaerobic decomposition takes place under high-solids (more than 30 % total solids) and static non-mixed conditions.

    1.2 This test method is designed to yield a percentage of conversion of carbon in the sample to carbon in the gaseous form under conditions found in high-solids anaerobic digesters, treating municipal solid waste (1, 2, 3, 4). This test method may also resemble some conditions in biologically active landfills where the gas generated is recovered and biogas production is actively promoted by inoculation (for example, codeposition of anaerobic sewage sludge, anaerobic leachate recirculation), moisture control (for example, leachate recirculation), and temperature control (for example, short-term injection of oxygen, heating of recirculated leachate) (5, 6, 7).

    1.3 This test method is designed to be applicable to all plastic materials that are not inhibitory to the microorganisms present in anaerobic digesters operating on household waste.

    1.4 Claims of performance shall be limited to the numerical result obtained in the test and not be used for unqualified biodegradable claims. Reports shall clearly state the percentage of net gaseous carbon generation for both the test and reference samples at the completion of the test. Furthermore, results shall not be extrapolated past the actual duration of the test.

    1.5 The values given in SI units are to be regarded as the standard.

    1.6 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 hazards are given in Section 8.

    Note 1—This test method is equivalent to ISO 15985.


    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

    D1888 Methods Of Test for Particulate and Dissolved Matter in 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

    212 Nitrogen Ammonia

    ISO Standard

    ISO15985 PlasticsDetermination of the ultimate anaerobic biodegradability and disintegration under high-solids anaerobic-digestion conditionsMethod by analysis of released biogas


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.030.99 (Other standards related to wastes)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 13100000(Rubber and elastomers)


    DOI: 10.1520/D5511-12

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