FAQs on Applying for Certification
The cost for certification should be viewed in two parts. There is the cost for the certification procedure and a cost for the testing (if required). Both these parts are undertaken on a ‘case by case basis', dependant on the product itself. Once a formal application has been made a contract will be drawn up by the certification body indicating the cost of certification. The cost will be determined on the basis of the information provided in the application form.
i. Make contact with AfOR either by email or phone expressing your interest in the scheme. Disclose some generic details e.g. base material, product use etc. Review the scheme rules and other associated documentation which goes along with ‘AfOR Home Compostable' scheme.
ii. Fill out an application form where all details can be included regarding your product.
iii. Submit samples for testing
The certification process will take between 2-3 weeks once all documentation, including test reports are in place. If testing is required the process will become dependant on the time needed to conclude the tests as identified under the AfOR ‘Home Compostable' criteria.
AfOR can offer to send a specific confidentially agreement to your suppliers who will then have the guarantee that the sensitive information will not be passed onto any third parties apart from the certification body.
1) What is does ‘biodegradable' mean and how is it different from ‘Compostable'?
Under EN 13432 the term ‘Ultimate Biodegradablity' is defined as the "breakdown of an organic chemical compound by micro-organisms in the presence of oxygen to carbon dioxide, water and mineral salts of any other elements present (mineralisation) and new biomass or in the presence of oxygen to carbon dioxide, methane, mineral salts and new biomass.
Compostable infers a specific time frame to the biodegradation and disintegration of the material. This is different to ‘biodegradable' where there is no time frame to which a threshold is set.
The disintegration test measures the physical falling apart of the product into fragments, it is required as a means to confirm that 90% of the complete product will fragment within 3 months. The thickness of product is tested as the micro organisms will not reach the middle of thicker products unless in suitably disintegrates allowing for more surface area to be exposed.
A packaging element that may be easily separated from the rest of the packaging
A packaging element that cannot be easily separated from the rest of the packaging
1) What test reports do I need
The AfOR Home Compostable scheme operates with reference to the European Standard EN13432. There are up to 4 testing reports which may be needed for certification.
- Biodegradation test report (chemical breakdown of the material)
- Disintegration test report (physical falling apart of the product into small fragments)
- Ecotoxicity test report (confirmation that the composted product does not exert any negative plant impact)
- Chemical Analysis test report (test of heavy metals content)
Provided that the product is 100% made of the tested material, test results for biodegradability, chemical analysis and ecotoxicity can be used for certification of the final product. This is not always the case for the disintegration test and the addition of additives and other materials may result in the need for further testing.
Test reports which originate from the certification bodies approved laboratories will be suitable for the application process. If the test reports originate from laboratories not approved by the certification body they will need to verify the validity of the data and if they are applicable to the criteria set out in EN 13432.
However you can check in advance if the following basic conditions are fulfilled:
The report(s) must make reference of the standard and used test method
The report must not only mention the conclusion, but also report the quantitative test results.