The Australasian Bioplastics Association Incorporated (ABA) is the peak Industry body for the bioplastics industry in Australia and New Zealand and administers two verification programmes for companies and individuals wishing to verify their claims of conformance to Biodegradable Plastics suitable for commercial and home composting.

Recently, the ABA announced new requirements to eliminate the use of fluorinated chemicals in the products and packaging it verifies for compostability.

Due to growing concerns around fluorinated chemicals, often referred to as perfluorinated or polyfluorinated alkyl substance (PFOA & PFAS) as a class of chemicals, the ABA membership and Executive voted to approve a requirement for companies to declare that fluorinated chemicals are not intentionally added to products that is undergoing verification.

Fluorinated chemicals like PFAS are used across a number of industries, and are an effective, FDA-approved “grease-proofing” barrier used on some paper and molded pulp food packaging. Most ABA certified products already do not contain fluorinated chemicals, instead achieving water and grease barrier through the use of compostable biopolymers like PLA, PBAT, PBS, or PHA, as well as compostable waxes.

ABA’s overarching goal is the scalable diversion of organic waste to composting by verifying that products and packaging will successfully break down in professionally managed composting facilities, without harming the quality of finished compost. The certification programme is built on a third party system of independent labs that test products to AS4736 and AS5810 standard specifications, and a robust technical review by an accredited body. The standards include multiple requirements before a product can be claimed to be compostable, including biodegradation testing, disintegration testing, heavy metals limits, compost quality, and toxicity (plant and earthworm) testing. Currently, ABA certifies products and packaging from over 120 companies around the world, and maintains a public database that is keyword searchable for over 220 certified items.

This new restriction on fluorinated chemicals follows the lead of BPI, the US based certifier of compostable packaging. It is clearly the right thing to do, and something we are all committed to,” said ABA President, Rowan Williams. “Compostable products and packaging play a pivotal role in the zero-waste movement, and as more communities across Australasia set up food waste collection programmes, we are working to ensure that ABA’s certification will continue to be a trusted benchmark for compostability.”