The European standard
The European standard EN 13432 defines the requirements for industrially compostable packaging and includes both the criteria and a test scheme.
The European standard EN 13432 defines the requirements packaging has to meet in order to be processable by industrial composting. It includes the test scheme and evaluation criteria for the compostability and anaerobic treatability of packaging and packaging materials in controlled waste treatment plants. EN 13432 can be applied to all packaging materials. For other than packaging applications the standard EN 14995 is applied. The technical contents of EN13432 and EN14995 are identical.
EN 13432 is not applicable to home composting in which the conditions, such as the temperature, differ from those of industrial composting. As a result, packaging recognized as compostable according to EN 13432 cannot automatically be considered to be suitable for home composting. EN 13432 does not take into account packaging waste which may end up in the environment, through uncontrolled means, i.e. as litter.
A partly compostable package?
The standard outlines that in case of a packaging formed by different components, some of which are compostable and some other not, the packaging itself, as a whole is not compostable. However, if the components can be easily separated by hand before disposal, the compostable components can be considered and treated as such, once separated from the non-compostable components.
What about the contents of the packaging?
If in any case the product filled into a compostable packaging could remain in parts or as a whole in the packaging after the normal use, the products should by themselves be compostable and neither toxic nor hazardous.
According to the EN 13432 standard, a packaging claimed to be compostable must fulfill the following criteria: