The American Norm ASTM D6400, titled "Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics," describes a standard set of criteria for determining whether a plastic material, or product made from a plastic material, can be considered "compostable". It was established and is published by The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Multinational corporations and smaller firms and organizations worldwide have applied the ASTM D6400 standard, including BASF, DuPont, NatureWorks LLC, Metabolix-ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., PURAC (The Netherlands) and many more.
ASTM D6400 is very similar to the Eurpoean standard EN 13432, and is related to a number of other international standards, such as DIN CERTCO 7P-0199, DIN V49000, DIN V54900, ISO 14855 and OECD 208, and many of others that describe tests that are included in the ASTM D6400 standard.
This specification covers plastics and products made from plastics that are designed to be composted in municipal and industrial aerobic composting facilities. This specification is intended to establish the requirements for labeling of materials and products, including packaging made from plastics, as "compostable in municipal and industrial composting facilities." The properties in this specification are those required to determine if plastics and products made from plastics will compost satisfactorily, including biodegrading at a rate comparable to known compostable materials. Further, the properties in the specification are required to assure that the degradation of these materials will not diminish the value or utility of the compost resulting from the composting process.
This standard provides two separate definitions:
- Biodegradable Plastic - a degradable plastic in which the degradation results from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae.
- Compostable Plastic - a plastic that undergoes degradation by biological processes during composting to yield CO2, water, inorganic compounds and biomass at a rate consistent with other compostable materials and leaves no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue.
Importantly, the ASTM D6400 standard requires 60% biodegradation within 180 days. This requirement is similar to the requirements of ISO 14855 and DIN V49000, but differs from the stricter EN 13432 standard, which requires 90% biodegradation in that time.
For a material to receive the new logo of the US Composting Council it must meet all of the requirements of the ASTM D6400.