Compostability and biodegradability of products under the microscope

As one of the first laboratories at all in France WESSLING France has officially inaugurated its WESSLING GreenLab. The laboratory is located in Isère, near Lyon. The experts there deal exclusively with the compostability and biodegradability of products.

"Initially we will mainly carry out compostability tests in the laboratory. This means we will test whether materials in the compost can be decomposed naturally and thus be returned to the earth without negative effects on the environment", explains Valentine Gernigon, Head of the WESSLING GreenLab. Currently she and her colleagues are mainly testing food packaging made of paper, with or without plastic or paraffin paper windows.

Logo WESSLING GreenLab
Logo WESSLING GreenLab

Cooperation with customers for environmental protection and sustainability

The new laboratory has a particular history of development, as it is the result of a partnership with the French customer Gault & Frémont. "This is a packaging manufacturer for paper, cardboard and baking solutions. It is very important to them to limit the impact of their products on the environment as much as possible", Jean-François Campens, Managing Director of WESSLING France, gives an insight into the development process. Gault & Frémont were substantially involved in setting up the laboratory.

On a total of 70 m² of newly created laboratory space, analysis and documentation is now carried out here completely digitally using the most modern instruments. For this purpose, the WESSLING GreenLab is equipped with a screen for monitoring the tests. In addition, a digital information transfer system has been set up, which is specifically designed to automatically monitor the test conditions in the sample containers.

Ecotoxicity test in the WESSLING GreenLab

Constant temperature and darkness

The laboratory is divided into two rooms and consists of a 30 m² area for sample preparation and a 40 m² analysis room in which the samples are subsequently placed. The latter is deliberately kept in darkness to simulate the real conditions of a composting process. Another special feature of the laboratory is that it has special sealed walls that make it possible to maintain a constant internal temperature of 25°C. Both are fundamental conditions to meet the requirements of the standards for compostability and biodegradability tests in different environments.

To simulate industrial composting conditions, the WESSLING GreenLab carries out biodegradation tests in an oven set at 58°C. The laboratory also has a growth chamber for ecotoxicological tests on plants. In the chamber all parameters necessary for the correct development of the plants are controlled. These tests are necessary to ensure that compost containing degraded material does not interfere with plant development.

Frédéric Jeampierre, Valentine Gernigon, and Jean-François Campens from WESSLING France for the inauguration of the new compostability laboratory in France

Next on the list are cutlery, bags and mulch film

"We are very proud of our new laboratory. The continuous improvement of environmental protection and sustainability are not only core competencies of our services in the market, but also our central corporate objective. With the WESSLING GreenLab we bring both together in a unique way and develop further together with our customer", says Jean-François Campens. "After the successful start of the laboratory we are of course already planning the next expansion stages in parallel. In the future, the tests are to be extended to other product groups such as cutlery, bags or mulch film. The focus will then be on plastic or organic materials in particular". - So it will remain exciting! To be continued.

Do you have any questions to compostability and biodegradability of products?

Christiane Schinor