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The History of "Biodegradation"

Since the introduction of "biodegradable plastics" in the late 1980s, confusion and skepticism about claims and product performance have prevailed. This skepticism stems largely from plastic products that did not biodegrade as expected.

Manufacturers were able to make claims because no scientifically based test methods and standards existed.

Today technology has advanced to create plastics that look and feel like existing products, yet have been engineered to biodegrade, completely and safely, when composted in a composting facility, leaving no residues. 

More importantly, specifications now exist to scientifically prove biodegradability: ASTM D6400 for films and ASTM D6868 for packaging.

The BPI sponsors these scientifically based tests so that manufacturers can now make truthful and accurate claims about biodegradability. And the BPI actively works with legislators and municipalities to ensure only scientifically based marketing claims are made about biodegradable products.

Our Compostable Logo program is designed to build credibility, recognition and trust for products that meet the ASTM standards among consumers, composters, regulators and others. It is easily recognizable and able to be placed on the actual product as well as packaging materials and sales literature.

BPI is a science-driven organization that supports a shift to the circular economy by promoting the production, use, and appropriate end of lives for materials and products that are designed to fully biodegrade in specific biologically active environments.

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