ASTM D6400 – Compostable Product Test – Composting

ASTM D6400 is the standard specification for solid material biodegradation (by composting) required for the labeling of plastics designed to be aerobically composted in municipal or industrial facilities.

Situ Biosciences has currently suspended testing according to the ASTM D6400 due to complications associated with the COVID-19 mandatory quarantine.

As a globally recognized biodegradation test standard, the ASTM D6400 is most often used for plastics and other solid materials.

Although the ASTM D6400 was developed for plastics, it can also be used for many other solid materials including paper products, textiles, foam and food packaging.

The series of ASTM D6400 is a four-part biodegradation test for evaluating biodegradability that includes elemental analysis, plant germination (phytotoxicity), and mesh filtration of the resulting particles.

As a product test method, the ASTM 6400 provides for composting conditions as a means to assess biodegradation of finished materials and raw materials or ingredients.

The ASTM D6400 test method uses a set of conditions that favor microorganisms that thrive above 50 degrees centigrade, making the test method somewhat selective for bacterial based biodegradation.  This component of the test method does favor bioplastic types of materials, and may not provide for testing parity when comparing the ASTM D6400 to other test methods such as the ISO 16929.   In addition, the method is not meant to represent composting conditions in a home compost facility,  as the composting  temperature requirements are not likely to be achieved in a home facility over an extended period of time.

ASTM D6400 has been harmonized with other industry standards such as ISO 14855. Customers needing only the biodegradation testing and not the full range of compost analysis have been requesting ASTM D5338 for Aerobic Biodegradation.

Additional Testing Information

  • The standard ASTM D6400 test series lasts a minimum of 90 days.  Testing can last up to 180 days.
  • Exposed to an inoculum derived from a municipal waste stream, the material will (ideally) biodegrade in a representative environment as commonly found in standard compost facilities.
  • For making compostability claims, ASTM D6400 is the recommended compostability test method for a wide range of industrial components and consumer products.

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