Plastics - Recommendation for terminology and characterisation of bioplastics

This Technical Report gives recommendations for bioplastics and biopolymers related terminology. These recommendations are based on a discussion of commonly used terms in this field.
This Technical Report also briefly describes the current test methods state of the art in relation to the characterization of bioplastics and products made thereof.

Kunststoffe - Empfehlung für die Terminologie und die Charakterisierung von Biokunststoffen

Der vorliegende Fachbericht enthält Empfehlungen für eine auf Biokunststoffe und Biopolymere bezogene
Terminologie. Diese Empfehlungen beruhen auf einer Erörterung der üblicherweise auf diesem Gebiet
angewendeten Begriffe.
In diesem Fachbericht sind auch kurz die derzeitigen Prüfverfahren auf dem neusten Stand der Technik in
Bezug auf die Charakterisierung von Biokunststoffen und daraus hergestellter Erzeugnisse beschrieben.

Plastiques - Recommandations pour la terminologie et la caractérisation des bioplastiques

Le présent Rapport technique fournit des recommandations pour la terminologie relative aux bioplastiques et aux biopolymères. Ces recommandations sont fondées sur une discussion des termes communément utilisés dans ce domaine.
Le présent Rapport technique donne également une description succincte de l'état de l'art actuel en matière de méthodes d'essai en relation avec la caractérisation des bioplastiques et des produits fabriqués à partir de ces derniers.

Polimerni materiali - Priporočila za terminologijo in opis značilnosti biopolimernih materialov

To tehnično poročilo podaja priporočila za terminologijo biopolimernih materialov in z biopolimernimi materiali povezano terminologijo. Ta priporočila temeljijo na razpravi o splošno uporabljenih izrazih na tem področju.
To tehnično poročilo tudi na kratko opisuje najsodobnejše trenutne preskusne metode, ki se nanašajo na opis značilnosti biopolimernih materialov in iz njih narejenih proizvodov.

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SIST-TP CEN/TR 15932:2011
Plastics - Recommendation for terminology and characterisation of bioplastics
Kunststoffe - Empfehlung für die Terminologie und die Charakterisierung von
Plastiques - Recommandations pour la terminologie et la caractérisation des
Ta slovenski standard je istoveten z: CEN/TR 15932:2010
01.040.83 Gumarska industrija in Rubber and plastics
industrija polimernih industries (Vocabularies)
materialov (Slovarji)
83.080.01 Polimerni materiali na Plastics in general
SIST-TP CEN/TR 15932:2011 en,fr,de
2003-01.Slovenski inštitut za standardizacijo. Razmnoževanje celote ali delov tega standarda ni dovoljeno.

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SIST-TP CEN/TR 15932:2011

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SIST-TP CEN/TR 15932:2011

CEN/TR 15932


March 2010
ICS 01.040; 83.080.01
English Version
Plastics - Recommendation for terminology and characterisation
of biopolymers and bioplastics
Plastiques - Recommandations pour la terminologie et la
caractérisation des biopolymères et bioplastiques

This Technical Report was approved by CEN on 17 August 2009. It has been drawn up by the Technical Committee CEN/TC 249.

CEN members are the national standards bodies of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland,
Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.



Management Centre: Avenue Marnix 17, B-1000 Brussels
© 2010 CEN All rights of exploitation in any form and by any means reserved Ref. No. CEN/TR 15932:2010: E
worldwide for CEN national Members.

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SIST-TP CEN/TR 15932:2011
CEN/TR 15932:2010 (E)
Contents Page
Foreword .3
Introduction .4
1 Scope .5
2 Commonly used terms .5
2.1 “Bio”polymers: polymers based on renewable raw materials .5
2.1.1 General .5
2.1.2 Natural polymers from biomass .6
2.1.3 Synthetic polymers derived from biomass .6
2.2 “Bio”polymers: polymers exhibiting a “bio” - functionality .6
2.2.1 Polymers for biomedical applications .6
2.2.2 Biodegradable polymers .6
2.3 Consequences .7
2.4 Public perception .7
3 Standardisation needs .8
3.1 Recommendation for terminology .8
3.1.1 General .8
3.1.2 Definitions of terms .8 Organic material .8 Polymer .8 Plastic .8 Renewable resource .8 Biomass .8 Biobased .8 Biobased carbon content .9 Biomass content .9 Biocompatible .9 Biodegradable .9 Biobased polymer .9 Biocomposite .9
3.2 Standard test methods .9
3.3 Standard designation of the term biopolymer . 10
Bibliography . 12


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SIST-TP CEN/TR 15932:2011
CEN/TR 15932:2010 (E)
This document (CEN/TR 15932:2010) has been prepared by Technical Committee CEN/TC 249 “Plastics”, the
secretariat of which is held by NBN.
Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of patent
rights. CEN [and/or CENELEC] shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights.
This document is a working document.


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SIST-TP CEN/TR 15932:2011
CEN/TR 15932:2010 (E)
The main reason of the recent interest in bioplastics is due to the origin (i.e. use of biobased raw materials) or
to the biodegradability of the final products, needed for instance for organic recovery. The use of biobased raw
materials could be beneficial with reference to two current problems: fossil resources depletion and climate
change. Today, regarding the latter issue, we have to manage the carbon in order to avoid its accumulation in
atmosphere. Efficient use of all available resources and responsible utilization of renewable carbon is a way to
participate to this reduction. Plastics are important materials which contribute significantly to environmental
protection: thanks to their tailor-made properties (e.g. light weight, excellent insulation ability, tunable
properties for optimum food protection, etc.) they reduce energy use by 26 % and reduce greenhouse gas
emissions by 56 % across variety of applications compared to alternatives .
The global manufacture of plastics in all applications only uses a small part of the entire consumed mineral oil:
in Europe, it makes up only about 4 % . The major fraction (> 80 %) of the residual fossil material is used for
energy production, predominantly for transportation and heating purposes. Besides crude oil, natural gas and
coal, biomass is an additional raw material source for plastics.
The currently available biomass is consumed in different segments: food and feed production, power and heat
generation, biofuel production and industrial applications (e.g. production of paper, fine chemicals). Due to the
limited capacity of ecosystems, the utilization efficiency of renewable resources and availability issues have to
be addressed across the whole bio-economy landscape. The eco-efficiency in this competitive use (e.g.
energetic use vs. manufacture of goods) should always be in focus.
According to various scientists , it would appear appropriate to use agricultural raw materials predominantly
in a cascade of uses, instead of burning them directly in furnaces or engines. That would mean, for example,
first producing a bioplastic from biomass: around 2 t to 10 t of bioplastic can be produced per hectare of
agriculture land. The bioplastic thereby stores CO in the form of vegetable carbon and removes it from
atmosphere. It would be desirable to trap this CO in the plastic for as long as possible. Finally, after
maximum utilization including recycling when achievable and appropriate, the polymer can then be used either
as energy source or as soil improver – to return the bound carbon to the natural cycle in the form of CO .
In order to ensure responsible and environmentally conscious use of natural (fossil and renewable) resources,
a clear and unambiguous terminology is of particular importance.

1) GUA – Gesellschaft für umfassende Analysen, “The Contribution of Plastic Products to Resource Efficiency,” Vienna,
2) PlasticsEurope, WG Market Research & Statistics, 2005.
3) Bioplastics - Renewable raw Materials and Climate Protection" (Kunststoffe International Journal October 2007, p;

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SIST-TP CEN/TR 15932:2011
CEN/TR 15932:2010 (E)
1 Scope
This Technical Teport gives recommendations for bioplastics and biopolymers related terminology. These
recommendations are based on a discussion of commonly used terms in this field.
This Technical Report also briefly describes the current test methods state of the art in relation to the
characterization of bioplastics and products made thereof.
2 Commonly used terms
2.1 “Bio”polymers: polymers based on renewable raw materials
2.1.1 General
In this context, the “bio-“prefix is used as an abbreviation of “derived from biomass” or "obtained from
renewable raw materials".
The term biopolymer then identifies polymers which derive from organic matter constituting living organisms
and their residues . Biomass is considered as a renewable resource. A renewable resource is replenished by
natural processes at a rate comparable to its exploitation rate. The carbon content of such polymers is derived
from the so-called short carbon cycle (expected time frame: 1 year to 10 years; see Figure 1). Most industrial
polymers and plastics are presently produced starting from fossil resources which are non-renewable as they
cannot be replenished at a rate comparable to the exploitation rate (long carbon cycle, expected time frame to
convert biomass to petroleum, gas and coal: >10 years).


Figure 1 —Global Carbon Cycling

4) EC DECISION (2007/589/EC) of 18 July 2007: ‘biomass’ means non-fossilised and biodegradable organic material
originating from plants, animals and micro-organisms.
5) Narayan, Ramani, Biobased and Biodegradable Materials, Rationale, Drivers & Technology exemplars, ACS (An
American Chemical Society Publication) Symposium Ser., 939, Ch. 18, pg 282, (2006).

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The same polymer can often be made from both biomass and fossil resources. Polymers made from biomass
may be biodegradable (see 2.2.2.) or can exhibit a long lifetime.
Polymers derived from biomass can be natural (2.1.2) or synthetic (2.1.3). Some bioplastics may be a
combination of both natural and synthetic polymers, in which context the term biocomposite has already been
2.1.2 Natural polymers from biomass
In biochemistry, biopolymers are polymers synthesized by living organisms (animals, plants, algae, micro-
organisms). The most abundant biopolymers in nature are polysaccharides. Cellulose and starch are
polymers of glucose and are extremely abundant in the biosphere. Proteins and bacterial
polyhydroxyalkanoates are also polymers.
All these polymers are natural, i.e. they are synthesized by living organisms, essentially in the form in which
they are finally used. Direct industrial exploitation is possible after extraction and purification, i.e. by physical
processes. Other industrial exploitation is also possible, e.g. in case the natural polymer is undergoing a
chemical process of functionalization.
2.1.3 Synthetic polymers derived from biomass
The term biopolymer is also applied to define polymers whose monomers derive from renewable resources,
rather than from fossil resources, even though the conversion to polymer involves chemical transformation. In
principle, many polymers can be synthesised from renewable feedstock. Amongst them, poly(lactic acid) is a
good example of this class. Corn starch is hydrolyzed to make dextrose, which is used as the fermentation
feedstock and bio-converted into lactic acid. This biomass-derived product is processed chemically to produce
poly(lactic acid). In this case the polymer is renewable because the original feedstock comes from agriculture,
but non-natural, i.e. it is not extracted from a plant or a bacterium, but synthesized in a chemical plant. In a
similar way it is possible to produce ethylene from bioethanol produced by fermentation, and to use the
monomer as a bio-derived feedstock to make ethylene based polymers. The polymer is again renewable but
non-natural. Polyamide 11, made from castor-oil, is another example.
NOTE Other sources than agriculture are possible (e.g. organic waste, forest, sea).
2.2 “Bio”polymers: polymers exhibiting a “bio” - functionality
2.2.1 Polymers for biomedical applications
In this context the “bio-” prefix is used to indicate biocompatibility with living cells and tissues.
Biocompatible means that the polymer does not harm the body or its metabolism in any way while fulfilling the
expected function (e.g. artificial hip or knee). In substitutive medicine the term biopolymer is used as a
synonym for biocompatible or bioabsorbable polymer. This refers primarily to the ability of a scaffold for tissue-
engineering devices to perform as a substrate that supports the appropriate cellular activity, without eliciting
immune responses. Furthermore, the scaffold is expected to be bioabsorbed after healing.
2.2.2 Biodegradable polymers
In this context, the “bio-“ prefix is used as a abbreviation of biodegradable polymers.
The term biopolymer is used for designating those polymers which are used in biodegradable products. In this
case, the focus is on the biodegradability and on the possibility of organic recovery of waste.
Criteria designating plastics or packaging suitable for organic recovery (i.e. anaerobic digestion and industrial
composting) are specified by standards such as EN 13432, EN 14995, ASTM D 6400, and ISO 17088.
Products complying with the strict requirements of

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