During biodegradation, microorganisms break down materials by consuming and converting the matter. The specific type of microorganisms involved in biodegradation is related to the environment’s temperature, moisture, pH and other factors. TÜV Austria has developed certification and labeling that indicates the environments in which a product will biodegrade. These environments include marine, soil and water.
The three primary certifications (MARINE, SOIL and WATER) differ based on the environment in which a product is able to biodegrade—marine waters, soil and freshwater (such as lakes and rivers) respectively. Each environment has different microorganisms, temperatures and other elements that will dictate what types of products are able to break down in it. An important note: If a product receives the OK biodegradable WATER certification, it does not mean it automatically qualifies as OK biodegradable MARINE.