Standards for Biodegradable Plastics | ASTM

From toothbrush handles and computer keys to aviation components and medical devices, plastics have become an ubiquitous part of modern life. To keep up with demand, manufacturers produce between 270 and 360 million Mg (300 and 400 million tons) of plastic worldwide each year. Unfortunately, what happens once plastics outlive their usefulness has become a troubling issue of our age. 

The amount of plastic waste discarded has galvanized some people against these polymers. According to a report from the Royal Statistical Society, as of 2017, only nine percent of plastic was recycled while 12 percent was incinerated. The remaining 79 percent went into landfills and the environment. According to a study published in Science magazine, roughly eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year. A key group working to alleviate these problems and support safe plastics disposal is ASTM International’s subcommittee on environmentally degradable plastics and biobased products (D20.96), part of the plastics committee (D20).



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