Bruno De Wilde
Lab Manager, OWS NV (Organic Waste Systems, N.V
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Determining the Sustainability of Wipes: Test Methods and Certifications for Different Environments
The sustainability of wipes can be determined, at least in part, by the rate and extent of degradation that occurs in its intended end of life environment - as well as the impact it has when uncontrolled disposal (i.e. littering) takes place. For an increasing number of communities around the world seeking to reduce single use plastics and divert organics from landfills, this means assessing the compatibility of the wipe with large scale organic recycling facilities that utilize either aerobic composting alone or a combination of anaerobic digestion and aerobic composting. For instance, compatible wipes used during food preparation or food service can then be combined with food residues in the organics bin without the need for consumer or staff separation. Similar assessments can be made for compatibility with home composting and wastewater treatment facilities.
Standardized test methods have been developed and largely harmonized around the globe to determine whether the product can be converted by microbial processes found in these environments in a sufficiently rapid and complete manner, so that no visible residues nor harmful invisible byproducts remain and reliable facility operations are maintained. The number and scope of testing is determined by the composition of the wipe substrate as well as any formulation applied to it. Certification agencies prescribe use of these test methods and specify the pass/fail criteria in order to obtain certification. Once successful test results and/or certification is obtained, manufacturers and brand owners are able to support relevant marketing claims such as "biodegradable" and/or "compostable" depending on local regulations.