Regulations Requiring Biobased Content Testing

  • EU Directive 2015/720 on Biobased Plastic Bags 

After a nationwide ban on plastic shopping bags in 2011, which excluded produce bags, EU Directive 2015/720 has been adopted in Italy. Aimed at reducing the consumption of plastic carrier bags, the adoption of the directive means that all disposable produce bags distributed in Italy will have to be compostable and contain a biobased carbon percentage that will progressively increase. The minimum biobased content starting from 40% in 2018 will be raised to 50% in 2020 and will reach 60% in 2021.

Bioplastic bag manufacturers are required to have the biobased percentage of their products certified according to UNI CEN/TS 16640: % biobased carbon as a fraction of total carbon (now called EN 16640:2017). The law also provides for information campaigns aimed at raising consumer awareness of the environmental footprint of plastic bags and “dispute the misperception that plastic is a harmless and cheap material, helping to reduce the usage of plastic bags”.

Source: Article 9-bis of Decree 91/2017

  • (EU) 2018/1702 establishing the EU Ecolabel Criteria for Biolubricants

Under Criteria 4 Renewable Ingredients Requirements, products using the term “bio-based” or “bio-lubricant” needs to have at least 25% bio-based carbon content in the final product. To demonstrate compliance, the ecolabel applicant is required to submit the final product test report in accordance with EN 16807, ASTM D6866, DIN CEN/TS 16137 (SPEC 91236), EN 16640 or EN 16785-1.

The new criteria and related assessment and verification requirements are valid until December 31, 2024.

Source: Official Journal of the European Union (November 8, 2018)

  • French Decree 2016-379 on Single-Use Plastic Bags

The French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy published Decree 2016-379 in March 2016 as part of the new French law on Energy Transition and Green Growth aiming to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags. This decree entered into force in July 2016 and banned single-use plastic carrier bags thinner than 50 microns. From January 2017, the only authorized bags are those with a biobased content of at least 30%. This minimum biobased content will increase to 40% in 2018, 50% in 2020, and 60% in 2025 as specified in the Decree. Carbon-14 testing is the analytical method required to determine the biobased content.

Bioplastic bag manufacturers are required to have the biobased content of their products certified according to the ISO 16620-2 or CEN/TS 16640 standards. The Decree also states that the biobased content is “the percentage, expressed as a fraction of total carbon, of biobased materials contained in the bags, using the calculation method specified in the international standard in force for determining the biobased carbon content of plastics”.

Source: Legifrance (March 31, 2016)

Organizations Promoting Biobased Products

There are several organizations in Europe that promote the use of biobased products, such as bioplastics, as part of their global climate change initiatives.

  • BNPP (France)

The Bureau de Normalisation des Plastiques et de la Plasturgie (BNPP) aims to promote the use of bioplastics and bring together experts in the field. BNPP also has a certification program for all bioplastic products in France.

  • European Bioplastics (Germany)

The European Bioplastics is an association representing industrial manufacturers, processors, and users of bioplastics and biodegradable polymers and their derivative products. The association aims to promote the growth and use of renewable raw materials in products and applications and supports innovations leading to lower environmental impact of durable and non-durable plastic products, among others.

Last Updated: March 2019