These tests have different analytical standards and they also reflect different aspects of a product. Biobased content testing shows the percentage of biomass-derived carbon versus fossil-derived carbon present in a material. Results do not have any implication on the material’s biodegradability.
There are synthetic plastic resins that biodegrade while some biobased materials are not biodegradable (e.g. bioplastics used in cars). A material is biodegradable only if microbes in the environment can break it down and use it as a food source.
There are several programs you may choose from but not all may apply to your products. You also have to take into consideration the specific certification your customers require. The analytical standard depends on the program you will choose. For example, most programs in Europe recommend a CEN analytical standard. The USDA’s BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Program only uses ASTM D6866 testing at this time.
Different analytical standards apply to different types of products. For example, EN 16766 only applies to biobased solvents while the ASTM D6866 standard applies to almost all products, including gases. The standards also have slight differences in the calculation of the biobased percentage. Some standards report results as a fraction of total organic carbon (TOC) while others report results as a fraction of total carbon (TC) present in the material.
For details on the other standards, please read Biobased Test Standards based on Carbon-14 Analysis.
No. Carbonates contain inorganic carbon. In biobased content testing, only the organic or biomass-derived carbon component is taken into account. More information is found in our article — Understanding Biobased Carbon Content Measurement.
No. Test results only show the percentage of components that come from biomass (biobased carbon) versus components that are derived from fossil sources. Biobased content testing does not identify the materials used in the formulation of a product.
Some standards only report biobased carbon content as a fraction of Total Organic Carbon while others take into account Total Carbon (both organic and inorganic carbon content). This difference matters to products that contain a significant portion of inorganic carbon (e.g. carbonates). For products with high carbonate content, their biobased carbon content as a fraction of TOC is generally higher than their biobased carbon content as a fraction of TC.
The choice of report format or analytical standard should be based on factors such as the terminology desired, geographical location of the target market, and the biobased certification or ecolabeling program selected for participation.
If you choose the US standard ASTM D6866 and your products contain carbonates, the carbonate is removed from the sample prior to analysis so that the result represents the percentage of biobased carbon as a fraction of total organic carbon.
If you choose a European standard (e.g. EN 16640), carbonates are included in the measurement and results are expressed as a fraction of total carbon.
The ISO standard ISO 16620-2, on the other hand, expresses biobased carbon content as a fraction of TC or TOC. It would be up to the submitter to decide whether or not the carbonates will be removed prior to analysis or included in the measurement.
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ASTM adjusts the correction factor periodically to make its D6866 standard more accurate relative to the current global atmospheric carbon measurement.
We recommend sending 0.5cc to 30cc for liquids and as little as 2.8 grams for solid samples (25 grams maximum). Note: We can only receive chemicals and solvents in very small quantities – not exceeding 0.3 cc (300 microliters). For more details, please see our submission guidelines.
We do not require specific containers for samples. Solids can be placed in any container; powders should be sent in properly sealed containers especially when multiple samples are sent. Liquids should also be submitted in containers that can be sealed tightly. You can use vials with snap caps shown below or those found at this site.
We have several forwarding facilities around the world but testing is only done in the Miami, Florida headquarters. If you are in Europe, please send your samples to our Madrid office. For China, please send them to our Xiamen address. For Japan, send the samples to our agent in Nagoya.
We also have other forwarding offices in the UK and South Korea, please see here – choose your location on the leftmost column to view the mailing address and customs declaration, if any.
NOTE: Samples need to be shipped to the US if they are designated as hazardous by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It is very important to inform us before shipping hazardous samples so we can give you the correct instructions and shipping address.
Beta Analytic publishes one report with a unique certificate number for each sample submitted.
We have no minimum number of samples required. If you are doing R&D or product development, generally one measurement is fine. If you are submitting samples for certification or ecolabeling programs or for tax credits, please consult the governing agencies or organizations as to the number of samples they require for testing.
Beta Analytic is a biobased content testing lab, not a certification organization. We provide biobased content testing required by certification agencies or ecolabeling programs. We do not have our own ecolabel.
No. Certification agencies and ecolabeling programs may require the products to be tested again using the latest version of the analytical standard they are recommending. Before sending samples to Beta Analytic, please contact the certification organization or ecolabeling program to verify if re-testing is required.
Page last updated: September 2022