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The BioPlastek 2011 Forum Newsletter published on May 16, 2011, featured an article about biobased content testing and Beta Analytic President Darden Hood’s participation in BioPlastek 2011 as one of the panelists in the session on “The Future of Bioplastics.”
A series of U.S. government “greening” initiatives beginning in 1998 led to the stipulation that Federal Agencies must give preferred purchase to competing products containing the highest biobased content. Today this is known as the USDA BioPreferred Program.
With manufacturers making claims of biobased content, the USDA needed a verification method in order to effectively implement the BioPreferred Program. With this, ASTM D6866 (Standard Test Method for Determining the Biobased Content of Solid, Liquid, and Gaseous Samples using Radiocarbon Analysis) was born.
Radiocarbon dating is a proven methodology used by archaeologists for decades to tell us about the past. But because radiocarbon dating is unique to each laboratory, its applicability as a standardized verification method to quantify the biobased content of petroleum-based chemical alternatives remained in doubt. The U.S. government turned to ASTM (the American Society for Testing and Materials) to address this quandary. Through stakeholder participation and with the help of Mr. Hood, ASTM D6866 emerged as a standard approved method.
Although today ASTM D6866 measurements have been applied to a large number of biobased materials, the meaning of the term “percent biobased” is a source of confusion. “Percent biobased” is a measure of the amount of biobased carbon in the product as compared to the sum of biobased and petroleum-based carbon in the product. The value represents a measure of how much biobased material a company is using to manufacture its products relative to the more readily available and less expensive petroleum-based alternatives. It must be noted though that a product’s biobased content is based ONLY on the organic (carbon-containing) fraction of the formulation.
With the BioPreferred Program included as one of the topics in the session on “The Future of Bioplastics” at the upcoming BioPlastek 2011 Forum, Mr. Hood will be a panelist to clarify interpretation and measurement of percent biobased content.
The Forum will take place on June 27-29, 2011 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.