What are biodegradability standards and what should we think about them?

There are different standards in chemical industry that describe the decomposing abilities of the substance. For about a couple of decades there has been a wide selection of PLA-based airsoft BB's in the market that are marketed as "biodegradable". Many of these brands say their BB meets the criteria of a standard that tells they are biodegradable. Often the referred standard is ISO-14855.

Is ISO-14855 standard suitable for airsoft BB?

Among airsoft players there has been a general understanding that there's no reason to worry about the nature impact of airsoft as the PLA BB's fulfill the biodegradation standard. What is less known is that for example the ISO-14855 standard is based on the definition that a product with this standard decomposes in industrial composing, which means a temperature of 58°C* (±2) degrees. This means that there's no guarantee the PLA-based airsoft BB would decompose when shot outdoors as the temperature it faces there is far from the temperature of industrial composting.

Revolutional technology of TerraBB

Then what is TerraBB made of? TerraBB consists of a polymer called PBS, polybutylene succinate. It can be made of for example sugarcane, cassava or corn, when it can be called BioPBS™, or synthetically, resulting in a chemically similar material called PBS. Certain types of PBS decompose in natural temperatures so when it comes to airsoft BB's and the question of decomposing in the nature, it doesn't matter if the polymer is BioPBS™ or regular PBS as long as it is such type that decomposes in nature.

As a result of careful research committed by us and our partners, we have created a material that is based on PBS polymers and various fillers that can be naturally found from the soil. This way we've created an airsoft BB that starts decomposing in just a couple of months in summertime - even here in Finland, in the cold north where TerraBB was invented. Using these fillers we can both improve the quality properties of the product as a high precision airsoft BB as well as enhance the biodegradation properties of the BB.

Why no standards?

Knowing these aspects of decomposing standards you might wonder why there aren't better standards to describe the ability of a substance to decompose in the nature - in natural outdoor temperatures - as it would seem much more useful knowledge among products that are meant to be used outdoors and left to the nature after use. Our understanding is that these technologies - both the market for it and solutions, like PBS - are so new that the chemical industry hasn't simply had time to develop a new standard yet. Establishing a standard is a complicated and time-taking process that requires a lot of research.

The world of bioplastics is yet a bit wild and searching for it's ways to adapt to new demands and technologies. TerraBB is ahead of it's time, bringing a new kind of airsoft BB to the market that actually decomposes while also offering excellent quality features as a high precision airsoft BB.

*58°C = 136,4°F