In general and simplified terms, a biodegradable material degrades in a manageable period of time through biological and natural processes.

Biodegradable materials are degraded by natural processes in defined periods of time. This can be very attractive for various applications (e.g., plastic bags, etc.). Depending on the field of application, it may be useful to achieve biodegradation in a wide variety of locations and environments, such as in the ocean, on the beach, in the forest, buried in the ground, in a biogas plant, in home compost or in an industrial composting. Accordingly, there are also various test standards and associated certification systems that distinguish, for example, between industrial and domestic composting.

In order to be able to designate a product as completely compostable, it must fulfill all conditions that set the European guideline DIN EN 13432 and / or the US-American standard ASTM D6400. Both specifications require that a biodegradable / compostable product is completely decomposed within a set timeframe and without leaving any environmentally harmful residues.

Environmental conditions determine the degree of disintegration and / or decomposition of biodegradable products:

  • Industrial composting: High, controlled-constant temperatures, humidity, microorganisms
  • Home composting: Moderate, moderately seasonal varying temperatures, humidity, microorganisms
  • Degradability in the soil: low, seasonally fluctuating temperatures, microorganisms
  • Degradability in water: moderately fluctuating temperatures, microorganisms


Biodegradable plastics are considered to be industrially compostable if they completely decompose to water, carbon dioxide and biomass under defined conditions in a composting system within a given period of time, thus in a composting cycle of a technical composting plant.

Depending on the test laboratory, plastics that meet this standard may carry the following certification logos:

Home and garden compostable

Biodegradability and compostability together represent an important component for creating a closed circular system. The DIN-tested garden compostable test mark identifies products according to the following standards AS 5810 and NF T51-800. These products can be returned to the material cycle if required.

Biodegradable in the soil

A pioneering step in biodegradability is the biodegradability in soil and the corresponding implementation of DIN EN 17033. Suitable products receive the certification mark biodegradable in soil from DIN CERTCO. After use, the product can be returned to the material cycle.