ISO 14853:2016 specifies a method for the determination of the ultimate anaerobic biodegradability of plastics by anaerobic microorganisms. The conditions described in ISO 14853 do not necessarily correspond to the optimum conditions for the maximum degree of biodegradation to occur. The test calls for exposure of the test material to sludge for a period of up to 90 d, which is longer than the normal sludge retention time (25 to 30 d) in anaerobic digesters, although digesters at industrial sites can have much longer retention times.
The method applies to the following materials:
- natural and/or synthetic polymers, copolymers or mixtures thereof;
- plastic materials which contain additives such as plasticizers, colorants or other compounds;
- water-soluble polymers;
- materials which, under the test conditions, do not inhibit the microorganisms present in the inoculum. Inhibitory effects can be determined using an inhibition control or by another appropriate method (see e.g. ISO 13641). If the test material is inhibitory to the inoculum, a lower test concentration, another inoculum or a pre-exposed inoculum can be used.