China China releases national standards for biodegradable plastic materials and products

Rules for biodegradability, labeling introduced

On November 26, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation released recommended national standards called the “Degradability and identification requirements of biodegradable plastics and products” (GB/T 41010-2021). These standards will come into effect on June 1, 2022. Here is an overview.

Scope

The standards apply to the following biodegradable plastic materials and products:

  • Natural polymeric materials
  • Synthetic polymers
  • Materials containing plasticizers, pigments or other compounds as additives
  • Mixtures of the materials above
  • Products made by processing biodegradable materials

Biodegradation requirements

Biodegradable plastic materials and products must meet the following requirements:

  • Have an organic content (volatile solid content) of at least 51 percent
  • Meet the content requirements for heavy metals and other specified elements as shown in the table below
Element Content requirement (mg/kg)
Arsenic (As) ≤ 5
Cadmium (Cd) ≤ 0.5
Cobalt (Co) ≤ 38
Chromium (Cr) ≤ 50
Copper (Cu) ≤ 50
Fluorine (F) ≤ 100
Mercury (Hg) ≤ 0.5
Nickel (Ni) ≤ 25
Molybdenum (Mo) ≤ 1
Lead (Pb) ≤ 50
Selenium (Se) ≤ 0.75
Zinc (Zn) ≤ 150
  • Meet the following biodegradability requirements:
    1. The relative biodegradability must be at least 90 percent, and each single organic component of the material with a weight percentage of one percent or more must have an absolute biodegradability of at least 60 percent. This requirement excludes the use of some materials, including PP and PE.
    2. In cases of mixtures and multiple materials combined, organic components with a weight percentage of less than one percent must be biodegradable as well. However, biodegradability certification information is not required to be displayed for these components. The total weight percentage of these organic components must be less than five percent.

Labeling requirements

Biodegradable plastic materials and products must display the following information and biodegradability mark:

  • Material(s)
  • Biodegradation condition
  • The product standards or biodegradability measurement standards that the product complies with
  • Product name

Here is an example of the biodegradability mark with the text.

Products are allowed to use the mark if they meet the biodegradability requirements described above.

 

You can see the name, publication date, effective date and other information on the standards at the link below (in simplified Chinese; the full text is not available):
http://www.gb688.cn/bzgk/gb/newGbInfo?hcno=8986C280DFE938665FDFD654C5513472