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Revised ASTM Plastics Standard Continues to Be Leading Test for Determining Biobased Content


 ASTM International’s Committee on Plastics (D20) has recently approved the latest revisions to an important standard used by the United States Department of Agriculture’s biopreferred program and the Environmental Protection Agency to help improve the sustainability of plastics.

The standard (D6866, Test Methods for Determining the Biobased Content of Solid, Liquid, and Gaseous Samples Using Radiocarbon Analysis), originally approved in 2004, teaches how to experimentally measure biobased content using radiocarbon analysis.

“Plastic materials are pervasive, universally used, and find applications in all parts of our lives, from agriculture to electronics to medical devices to packaging,” says ASTM member Ramani Narayan. The sustainability of plastics has emerged as a major issue, leading to re-engineering efforts for “greener” plastics.” These efforts include using biobased carbon feedstocks such as agricultural crops, residues and plant biomass rather than petro/fossil feedstock; and reducing carbon footprints in harmony with the rates and timescale of the biological carbon cycle.

“D6866 provides for a transparent, accurate and absolute test method to establish the biobased carbon content of plastics,” says Narayan, who is an MSU University Distinguished Professor in the department of chemical engineering and materials science at Michigan State University. “In other words, what percent of the carbons in the final product come from plant-biomass carbon feedstock as opposed to petro-fossil carbon feedstocks.”

In addition to being used by the USDA and EPA, D6866 is used by many large corporations throughout the world that are increasingly using biobased products.

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ASTM Committee D20 on Plastics Next Meeting: Nov. 13-16, 2016, November Committee Week, Orlando, Fla.
Media Inquiries: Dan Bergels, tel +1.610.832.9602;
Technical Contact: Ramani Narayan, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., tel +1.517.719.7163;
ASTM Staff Contact: Alyson Fick, tel +1.610.832.9710;

Release #10107

July 5, 2016

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