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SINGAPORE GREEN

LABELLING SCHEME
CERTIFICATION GUIDE
[Category: Oxo-biodegradable Plastic Products]
March 2013

[The Green Label Category for Oxo-biodegradable Plastic Products establishes grading criteria on
environmental, health and performance parameters for plastic products that biodegrade in the open
environment owing to the inclusion of a pro-degradant additive during manufacture. The standard
includes product specific environmental and health prerequisites, such as reduced eco-toxicity and
toxicity to humans.]

The Singapore Green Labelling Scheme (SGLS) was launched in May 1992 by the Ministry of
the Environment. It was handed over to the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) on 5 June
1999 and is currently fully owned by the SEC.
The Green Label aims to help the public identify environment-friendly products that meet certain
eco-standards specified by the scheme and seeks to encourage the level of eco-consumerism in
Singapore as well as to identify the growing demand for greener products in the market. The
scheme hopes to create a backlash effect, encouraging manufacturers to design and manufacture
with the environment in mind.
Green Label offers certification of a range of products in conformance with its standards. For
additional information on the SGLS or any of the SECs programmes, contact:

Singapore Green Labelling Scheme


1 Kay Siang Road #04-02
Singapore 248922
+65 6337 6062
greenlabel@sec.org.sg
www.sec.org.sg

TABLE OF CONTENTS
I.

SCOPE ................................................................................................................................... 4

II.

RATIONALE ......................................................................................................................... 4

III.

DEFINITIONS ....................................................................................................................... 5

IV. GREEN LABEL CERTIFICATION CHECKLIST .............................................................. 6


A.
B.
V.

Health and Environment Criteria ...................................................................................... 6


Quality Control / Assurance ............................................................................................ 11
REFERENCES .................................................................................................................... 11

I.

SCOPE

This standard establishes human health and environmental criteria for the certification of oxobiodegradable polypropylene and polyethylene products that degrade and biodegrade in the open
environment. These products are most commonly used in flexible plastics, semi-rigid
applications i.e. films, carrier bags, packaging, disposable products, agricultural products, and
products that do not require more than 2-3 years of useful life.

II.

RATIONALE

There is growing concern around the world that if plastic waste is not collected for disposal and
gets into the open environment it can subsist for decades, causing visual pollution, blocking
drains, and harming wildlife. In order to meet these concerns oxo-biodegradable plastics have
been developed and are now in use worldwide.

Oxo-degradation is defined by CEN (the European Standards Organisation) in TR15351 as


degradation resulting from oxidative cleavage of macromolecules., and oxo-biodegradation as
degradation resulting from oxidative and cell-mediated phenomena, either simultaneously or
successively. An additive can be included at manufacture to enable oxo-biodegradation i.e. turn
ordinary plastic at the end of its useful life in the presence of oxygen into a material with a
different molecular structure. When the molecular-weight of the material has descended to
10,000 Daltons after exposure to the open environment, it is no longer a plastic and has become
small fragments of a material which is inherently biodegradable in the open environment. At this
stage the material is no longer capable of causing visual pollution, blocking drains, or harming
wildlife. In other words, from an environmental perspective, the relevant timescale in relation to
litter is the time taken for the molecular weight of the material to descend to 10,000 Daltons in
the open environment, and not the time taken for complete biodegradation to occur.

Businesses, consumers, and government in Singapore need to know whether products


manufactured or imported as oxo-biodegradable are in fact oxo-biodegradable; whether they will
therefore degrade and biodegrade if they get into the open environment, and whether they
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contain heavy metals and are eco-toxic. For this reason a Singapore Green Label category has
been developed by reference to which these questions can be answered.

It is not possible to prescribe timescales in this category because the composition of oxobiodegradable plastics is designed to be variable and conditions in the open environment are also
variable. The report required by Section A is therefore of particular importance because in
addition to answering the above-mentioned questions it will give an indication of how long the
abiotic degradation process of the tested material is likely to take. The report can be used as a
basis for understanding whether the type of oxo-biodegradable plastic tested is suitable for the
purpose for which it is intended.

III. DEFINITIONS
Carcinogen

A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent


directly involved in causing cancer

Mutagen

A mutagen is a physical or chemical agent that changes the genetic


material, usually DNA, of an organism and thus increases the frequency of
mutations above the natural background level

Reproductive toxin

A reproductive toxin is a substance or agent that can cause adverse effects


on the reproductive system

Label

Refers to the Singapore Green Label

Material Safety Data Sheet

A document that indicates the physical and chemical properties of a


substance or product informing the reader of its intended use and safety
precautions to be undertaken when using it

ASTM

American Society for Testing and Materials. A body that develops standards and
testing methods for a variety of materials, products, and services.

IARC

International Agency for Research on Cancer.

ISO

International Organization for Standardization. (http://www.iso.org/)

VOC

Volatile Organic Compound. Any organic compound which participates in


atmospheric photochemical reactions and has an initial boiling point lower than
or equal to 280C measured at standard conditions of temperature and pressure.

Oxo-biodegradation

Degradation resulting from oxidative, followed by cell-mediated phenomena, for


the purpose of this category.

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IV. GREEN LABEL CERTIFICATION CHECKLIST


A.

Health and Environment Criteria


CRITERIA

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

a) Environmental Management Guidelines

A company manufacturing oxo-biodegradable plastics in


Singapore is

14001

management

certifications, or

required to have ISO (or equivalent)

environmental management systems in place.

ISO

Please see

Environmental

management

guidelines and a declaration that

Supporting Documents in the adjacent column.

the company is in the process of

Emissions to the air and water during the production process

obtaining the relevant certifications

in Singapore shall be controlled within the environment

within 2 years

regulation limits set by the NEA in the Code of Practice on

Documentation

Pollution Control (2000).

manufacturing process

on

the

Overseas manufacturing units shall comply with the relevant


local legislation, and pro-degradant masterbatch suppliers
shall be accredited to 14001.

The applicant must provide details of the manufacturing process


b) Hazardous and Prohibited substances

A declaration to this effect signed

The following substances shall not knowingly be incorporated

by the CEO or Technical Director

into the manufacturing process or final product:

of the applicant company

Carcinogens

Mutagens

Endocrine disruptors such as phthalates & reproductive toxins

c) Abiotic Degradation

Third party laboratory test reports,

Separate abiotic degradation tests shall be performed, by UV

according to ASTM D5208 and

ageing, and Heat Ageing to simulate the degradation

ASTM D3045:

processes.

UV Ageing: The test is performed

The extent of degradation shall be evaluated by measuring the

according to ASTM D5208-09

loss in mechanical properties, decrease in viscometry

Cycle C. Sample is exposed for 48

molecular weight, and determination of gel content.

hours.

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At the end of each test period not exceeding 18 days the

Heat Ageing: Samples which have

samples should show:

been exposed for 48 hours as above

- Average viscometry molecular weight <10,000 g/mole

are tested according to ASTM

(Daltons), or

D5510

- Elongation-at-break of at least 75% of the test samples at

Reports

based

on

other

test

the initial strain of 0.1 mm/ (mm min) should be 5% or

methods able to evidence abiotic

less. (ASTM D 3826-98(2008))

degradation, such as ASTM G21-

And, in either case Gel Fraction < 5%

If the material has been shown by High Temperature Gel

09 shall be accepted

Permeation Chromatography performed according to ASTM


D6474 to have average viscosity molecular weight <10,000
g/mole (Daltons), the material is no longer a plastic, and has
become inherently biodegradable. It is not then necessary to
show biodegradation by carbon evolution test according to
ISO 17556 or similar standards, which is time-consuming and
expensive.
d) The residual material from the above tests shall not exceed the Third party laboratory test reports:
levels specified in the table below, for ASTM D3335-85A

Chemical elements concentrations

(2009):

test, according to ASTM D3335-

Element

Of dry mg/ kg Element

Of dry mg/

substance

kg substance

Cr

50

Zn

150

Mo

Cu

50

Se

0.75

Ni

25

As

Cd

0.5

100

Pb

50

Hg

0.5

85A (2009), or

Chemical elements concentrations


test

according

to

RoHS

EN

2011/65/EU

Or, for RoHS EN 2011/65/EU, the limits are as follows:


Lead 0.1%
Mercury 0.1%

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Cadmium 0.01%
Hexavalent chromium 0.1%
Polybrominated biphenyls 0.1%
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers 0.1%
e) Storage life and service life

Third party laboratory test reports:

Useful life of product should be at least

six months,

excluding time in storage away from UV light and at a

Service life testing shall be carried


out according to ASTM D 882

temperature no higher than 30C

f) Food Contact

Third party laboratory test reports

For products intended for direct contact with food the product

based on EC 1935/2004 or FDA or

shall comply with European Commission Regulation No

equivalent

1935/2004 or the relevant provisions of the United States FDA


Code of Federal Regulations.

g) Energy efficiency

Documentation

of

energy

Policies and measures to maximise energy efficiency and

consumption

during

the

minimise the release of GHG, shall be implemented during

manufacturing

process,

and

the manufacturing process in Singapore. .

relevant reduction targets

Overseas manufacturing units shall comply with relevant


local laws.

h) Water efficiency

of

water

Policies and measures to maximise efficient water usage and

consumption

minimise

manufacturing process, and of

wastage

shall

be

implemented

during

the

manufacturing process in Singapore.

Documentation

during

the

plans to minimise the same

Overseas manufacturing units shall comply with relevant


local laws.

i) Waste management for manufacturing in Singapore

To

be

substantiated

by

Policies and measures to minimise waste generation and

documentation

demonstrating

increase material recovery shall be implemented during the

effective waste management and

manufacturing and distribution processes.

minimisation

policies

including

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annual figures of waste production.

The materials used during production must not be otherwise


treated to prevent end-life recyclability.

Waste released in the environment shall not exceed


acceptable levels of impact on the receiving land or water
bodies, as specified by Singapore statutes such as the
Environmental

Protection

and

Management

Act,

the

Environmental Public Health Act, the Sewerage and Drainage


Act and subsidiary regulations such as the Sewerage and
Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulations. The limits on effluent
discharge to sewers are listed by the PUB1 in Requirements
for Discharge to Sewer.

Overseas manufacturing units shall comply with relevant


local laws

j) Impact of Product entering various waste streams in Singapore

Relevant

documentation

on

The product must be able to degrade in a natural setting.

possible waste pathways of the

The applicant shall deliver documentation on how the material

product in Singapore, and its

will perform in Singapore and its effects in each scenario.

effects in each scenario

k) User Information

Relevant

documentation

and

The product shall include printed information on length of useful

sample of final product for visual

life and disposal.

inspection

NOTE

A written, signed, and dated report must be provided, on the letterhead of the laboratory, recording the
following information:
1. Full details of the material tested, including thickness, polymer material used, prodegradant
additive used
2. Purpose for which the test material is intended (e.g. shopping bag, garbage sack etc.) and
suitability of using the oxo-biodegradable additive/ material in the product based on parameters
such as application of the product, base materials, any other additives, life of the product, as

Public Utilities Board (www.pub.gov.sg.)

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well as end-of-life (where the product needs to biodegrade)


3. Results of each test and time taken to complete each test.
4. An estimate of storage and service life in Singapore
5. An estimate of the time the test material is likely to take to degrade in the open environment in
Singapore from onset of degradation to 10,000 Daltons.

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B.

Quality Control / Assurance


CRITERIA

In lieu of the conditions below, all pro-degradant master-batch suppliers must provide a copy of their valid
ISO 14001 Environmental Certification issued by an accredited certification body.
a) Purchasing and receiving

New sources of materials or parts are evaluated to comply with specifications or purchasing documents.

The manufacturer shall have a documented method to ensure that sources of materials or parts continue
to comply with specifications.

b) Manufacturing

Documentation that describes production methods and materials used shall be provided.

Records shall be maintained to show that products are made in accordance with documented methods
and materials.

V.

REFERENCES

Degradable Polymers: Principles and Applications, 2nd Edition, Ed. G. Scott, Kluwer
Academic Publishers, 2002
G. Scott Environmental Biodegradation of Hydrocarbon Polymers Biodegradable
Plastics and Polymers, Elsevier Science BV, 1994, pp 79-91.
I. Jakubowicz et al Kinetics of abiotic and biotic degradability of low-density
polyethylene containing prodegradant additives and its effect on the growth of microbial
communities 96 Polymer Degradation & Stability (2011) 919
A.-C. Albertsson et al Environmental Degradation of Polyethylene 169 Long Term
Properties of Polyolefins (2004) 177
A. Corti et al Oxidation and biodegradation of polyethylene films containing prooxidant
additives: Synergistic effects of sunlight exposure, thermal aging and fungal
biodegradation 95 Polymer Degradation and Stability (2010) 1106e1114
G. Scott Abiotic control of Polymer Biodegradation 5 Trends in Polymer Science, 361368 (1997).
R. Arnaud, et al Photo-oxidation and biodegradation of commercial photodegradable
polyethylenes, 46 Polymer Degradation and Stability (1994) 211.
A-C Albertsson et al Dept. of Polymer Technology, Royal Institute of Technology,
Stockholm Degradation product pattern and morphology changes as means to
differentiate abiotically and biotically aged degradable polyethylene Polymer vol.36 no.
16, (1995) 3075
G Scott et al Degradable Polymers in Waste and Litter Control Degradable Polymers:
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Principles and Applications, Chapman & Hall, 1995, Chapter 13.


J.Guillet Plastics and the Environment Degradable Polymers: Principles and
Applications, Chapman & Hall, 1995, Chapter 12.
G.Scott Biodegradable Polymers, Polymers and the Environment, Royal Society of
Chemistry, 1999, Chapter 5.
G.Scott The role of Environmentally Degradable Polymers in Waste Management
Wastes Management, May 1999, 38-39.
G.Scott Green Polymers, 68 Polymer Degradation & Stability (2000) 1-7
G.Scott Environmentally degradable polyolefins: When, Why and How Expert group
meeting on Environmentally degradable plastics, Present Status and perspectives, ICSUNIDO, Trieste, 2001, p. 37-48.

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