Biodegradation Testing for Consumer and Industrial Products

Biodegradability has become a valued characteristic for products in the market place.

Suppliers and manufacturers have the choice to develop and sell biodegradable products, and end-consumers are responding to these choices.  However, to claim that a product is biodegradable, a few additional steps are required.  Except for the simpliest products, part of the product development and marketing for biodegradable products requires biodegradability testing.

Biodegradability testing measures the complex biochemical process that occurs when microorganisms consume a given type of material.  Although complicated, the test results measure relatively simple markers of the biodegradation process.  At present, regulations require claims to be based on Aerobic Biodegradation, which typically measures oxygen consumption, CO2 production and the state of inorganic carbon intermediates.

It is important for manufactures and formulators to understand that material composition and product design can impact the biochemical interaction between the organisms and product, which may result in less than optimal biodegradation.   Biodegradability testing throughout the development of a product can save time and costs associated with new product development and the demonstration of successful biodegradation can be managed through the selection of the appropriate method and preparation of the samples to fit the requirements of a specific method.

Biodegradability testing is an important part in the supply chain for a biodegradable product.  However, because biodegradation is a complex biochemical process, it often does not lead to easy answers or automatically provide the intended result.  With dozes of methods, knowing the common issues associated with biodegradation testing can reduce the time and expense in brining quality and value-added products to market.

Additionally, understanding the need of the customer, the local or regional regulatory requirements, and the basic chemical nature of the product is an important step in potentially addressing common performance issues.   Before setting up a test plan, it is important to be aware of some of the common issues and how these may impact the design and use of your product.

For more information on biodegradation testing, contact the lab at 847-483-9950 or