Setting standards for a safer environment

Martin biodegradation

Without standards our lives would be chaotic. Developing and revising standards is a continual process at Scion as new technologies and products become available, with many of our scientists actively engaged in national and international standards committees for such things as wood preservatives, biodegradability, packaging, freshwater and biosecurity measures.

Scion is an advisory partner for the Knowledge Based Bio-based Products Pre-Standardisation (KBBPPS), an EU funded programme of research. In this capacity we are helping to develop, revise and harmonise standards to endorse claims of renewable components or biodegradability for such things as bio-based solvents, plastics, packaging and lubricants.

Biopolymer scientist Dr Martin Markotsis has been testing the biodegradability of bio-based lubricants in freshwater environments using Scion’s biodegradation facility. This purpose-built facility measures and quantifies aerobic composting of materials under controlled conditions, and whether additives and coatings impede or accelerate composting.

“Standards are based on rigorous and robust scientific testing,” says Martin. “Although the KBBPPS is not a regulatory body, it does propose standards to the EU and European Committee for Standardisation, and products may soon have to be clearly labelled as to which standards they comply with, or display some form of licensed logo. Knowing a product meets certain requirements will help reduce trade barriers and boost public confidence and acceptance of bio-based products.”

This work has also given rise to the Open-bio programme which got underway last November. Open-bio builds on the findings of the standards work to open international bio-based markets by promoting sustainability and end of life options such as biodegradability, composting and recycling.

New test methods give faster results

TriptiEstablishing and reviewing standards can take an enormous amount of time, none more so than for determining the durability of new wood products. Some of these products are expected to last for decades.

Bioactives scientist Dr Tripti Singh was invited to speak to the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) recently about Scion’s work with leaky building problems and test methodologies in the wood framing class.

“The AWPA sets the American wood standards and is trying to introduce a framing test method for their Class 2 category for wood product evaluation – similar to our Hazard Class H1.2. We have already developed tests for framing end use as part of our ongoing New Zealand standards and development work,” she says.

“The forest industry relies on test methodologies that can provide rapid proof of durability. Following our recent review of the protocols for assessing wood preservatives, the Australasian Wood Preservation Committee has now amended the Protocols for Assessment of Wood Preservatives to include three new test methods.

“These were found to be reliable and faster than some existing ones. The new ‘I’ frame sample test for Hazard Class 1.2 has been included in addition to the current frame cavity test, plus the Ground Proximity Test and the Embedded Test for Hazard Class 3. The amendments are now out with industry for review.

“These new test methods will provide a faster turnaround in product testing for industry which also means a faster turnaround for investors and response time for changes to preservation standards. We are also working with industry to develop other technical documents such as Standard Operating Procedures.”


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