Biodegradable Testing and Regulations

Biodegradable Testing and Regulations

After discussing with the CSIR, Sun Plastics has taken the initiative to pursue independent laboratory testing of its materials, making sure it meets international standards and complies with market regulations. South Africa doesn’t have any formal laws regarding biodegradable and compostable materials, however, the SA Plastics Pact which is a collaboration between the business, government and plastic industry has been working on phasing out certain products. Here’s more on the latest developments.  

Getting our materials tested

We are currently in the process of having our biodegradable materials tested; a local and comprehensive analysis of the performance of our packaging. Although the additive has been tested previously, our discussion with the CSIR has prompted us to pursue independent laboratory testing of our own manufactured material. This means that we will provide several samples to be tested under various types of environmental conditions, to verify our claims within the market. This would take place under accelerated landfill conditions, a marine environment, as well as soil.

The tests are also divided into three stages: fragmentation, biodegradation, and toxicity. This process will confirm if the material breaks down in a certain timeframe, completely degrades, and that the end result is not harmful to the environment. It is paramount that the materials meet international standards and complies with market regulations.

Biodegradable regulations in South Africa

It seems that there aren’t any formal laws (i.e., hard laws) regarding biodegradable and compostable materials in South Africa. This conclusion is based on information received from local government and interest groups, as well as research papers. Most notably the 2020 position paper titled Biodegradable and Compostable Packaging: a review of the South African landscape, raises key points in terms of biodegradable and compostable packaging (The Moss Group, 2020, p. 3-4).

  • Currently the restriction of separation, collection and processing infrastructures do not help direct post-consumer management of plastic packaging solutions (para. 4).
  • Presently, there is a shortfall for legislation concerning particularly to biodegradable and compostable materials in South Africa, with SANS 1728:2019 identification requirement of degradable plastic marking as the exclusion (para. 5).
  • The South African public do not have proper knowledge and understanding of what biodegradability and compostability means (para. 6).
  • The majority of the raw materials i.e., resins, and some finished products are imported, whereby the South African Economy is being restricted (para. 7).

Phasing out unnecessary products

Since the above paper was released, there have been two significant developments that have attempted to curb plastic waste in South Africa: SA Plastics Pact and the EPR Levy. Although we have mentioned these both before, it is worth noting that the Plastics Pact is in the process of phasing out 12 products that are regarded as problematic and unnecessary. The collaboration between the plastic industry, business, and government has identified products such as single-use cutlery, thin-barrier fruit bags, as well as products manufactured with oxo-degradable additives.

Although our additive is a much newer and improved technology – and is currently an accepted biodegradable material – we continue to review the potential impact and relevance of our biodegradable material in the market. By undergoing testing that complies with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), we ensure that our claims are backed by rigid scientific processes. Additionally, this experience will allow us to continue learning and to be responsible custodians of the biodegradable materials industry.

Switching to biodegradable packaging solutions allows you to play your part in helping the environment. If you think there is potential for converting your packaging requirements to a biodegradable option, then get in touch with us to explore the solutions together.