EN 13432 Certification Scheme
For many standards, including BS EN 13432, independent certification bodies offer product assessment and certification services. In the case of compostable packaging, upon receipt of an application a certification body would review the nature and ingredients of the packaging sample and ensure it is sent to an appropriate laboratory for the correct tests to be carried out. When received, the certification body will then check whether the laboratory test results report on the packaging sample proves that it has BS EN 13432's 'compostable' criteria. If it has, a unique packaging product certification number and certificate is awarded, and it may carry the scheme's certification mark (logo) 'compostable'.

In the UK, AfOR operates a certification scheme in partnership with the German certification body Din Certco, aligned to the requirements of BS EN 13432. Packaging certified to BS EN 13432 is an acceptable input material to commercial composting systems, including those that comply with BSI PAS 100 for composted products as well as the Quality Compost Protocol.

In order to gain certification for the packaging comprehensive documentary evidence and product test results are essential. 
To help simplify the process, certification bodies such as Din Certco maintain a 'positive list' of base materials, intermediates and additives which are certified for use in the manufacture of compostable packaging products. Once submitted, the certification committee will review all the provided evidence and if they agree that the product meets all the requirements of the relevant standard (BS EN 13432) then the product becomes certified.

Certified products or product families, e.g. a style of bags within a specified size / thickness range, are then issued a uniquecertifi cation number and are permitted to carry the European Bioplastics's 'compostable' seedling logo. (European Bioplastics is the owner of the logo and licences certification bodies to award its use to manufacturers and converters of certified compostable packaging and plastics.) Under this scheme, a product that carries the 'compostable' seedling logo must also display its certification number. This allows end-users to trace the product to its source.

A product certificate is only valid for three years after which it must be renewed if the product is to continue to use its certification number and the 'compostable' seedling logo. In addition, to ensure integrity of the whole process, at frequent intervals throughout the three year period, the certification body, in the UK the Association for Organics Recycling, will seek samples from the market which will then be sent for further testing. This market surveillance aims to verify whether a 'compostable' product on the market is in fact the same one that passed the 'compostable' tests, with the same certification number.

It is also worth noting that manufacturers who gain certification do so to a maximum thickness e.g. 100 microns, and that this thickness may be many times thicker than the final product. Using a kitchen caddy liner as an example, the liner itself is likely to be between 16 and 20 microns thick however the certification for the product can be as high as 100 microns thick, Thus, it is extremely likely that the product which is five times thinner than the certified material will compost much faster than the limits specified within BS EN 13432.

For more information about the Association for Organics Reycling's certification scheme for biodegradable and compostable packaging and products please contact Georgia Phetmanh 

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