Standards Promote Sustainable Development

The ASTM International Memorandum of Understanding program supports U.N. Sustainable Development goals.
Cicely Enright

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, which became official in 2016, aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. The United Nations has worked to involve all countries and stakeholders to act together on this plan, which represents areas of critical importance for humanity and the earth.

ASTM International’s Memorandum of Understanding program promotes communication among standards bodies worldwide, awareness of standardization systems, support for standards activities, and reduction in duplication. The MOU program, with 110 regional and national standards body signatories worldwide, encourages participation in ASTM International standards development from technical experts around the world.

The U.N. goals and the MOU program are aligned to help people and the planet.

UN Goals

ASTM International’s MOU program

Region: All  Emerging Nations
Industry: Sustainable Construction – Concrete

One of the most widely used construction materials in the world, concrete forms the foundation and structure of many homes, offices, bridges, and highways. Concrete is durable and recyclable.

Standards from ASTM International’s committee on concrete and concrete aggregates (C09) support the reuse and recycling of concrete and its constituent materials, regardless of material, source, or location.
Two standards support better practices for adding water, an essential concrete component, and allow for the use of recycled water at a job site:

  • The specification for mixing water used in the production of hydraulic cement concrete (C1602) covers composition and performance requirements; and
  • The test method for measurement of solids in water (C1603) applies when one or more of the water sources is wash water from the work site.

Another pair of standards supports the use of recycled industrial materials in concrete production:

  • The specification for blended supplementary cementitious materials (C1697) covers the use of slag cement, natural pozzolans and coal fly ash, and silica fume, which improve workability, cohesiveness, finish, and durability while requiring less energy, improving efficiency, and enhancing building performance; and
  • The specification for returned fresh concrete for use in a new batch of ready-mixed concrete (C1798) addresses the requirements for a new batch of material that includes what has been returned.

In sum, the standards encourage more sustainable manufacturing and construction practices, in turn helping to reduce material in landfills and conserving water.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: 8 | 11 | 12

Region: All  Emerging Nations
Industry: Environmentally Friendly Fuels

The linked issues of economic growth and environmental sustainability point to the importance of renewable energy in the context of growing demand and shrinking natural resources. Cleaner, more sustainable fuels and components can be shown to be safe, economical, and environmentally sound with the use of standards.

Standards from the committee on petroleum fuels, liquid fuels, and lubricants (D02) help evaluate the safety of alternative and renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Both fuels support the use of local energy stocks: ethanol is a gasoline extender and octane-number enhancer, and biodiesel is an alternative fuel derived from vegetable oils and animal fats.

Among these standards are five that together help reduce the use of petroleum-based fuels:

  • The specification for denatured fuel ethanol for blending with gasoline for use as automotive spark ignition engine fuel (D4806) covers ethanol for blending with gasoline to produce E10 (10 percent ethanol). This standard is used in conjunction with the widely accepted automotive fuels specification (D4814).
  • The specification for ethanol fuel blend for flexible-fuel automotive spark-ignition engines (D5798) helps in producing E85 (51 to 83 volume percent ethanol), also known as “ethanol flex-fuel,” for ground vehicles.
  • The specification for biodiesel fuel blend stock (B100) for middle distillate fuels (D6751), the fundamental ASTM specification for biodiesel, provides the requirements for this fuel.
  • The specification D7467 for diesel fuel oil biodiesel blend (B6-B20) (D7467) covers finished fuel blends.
  • The specification for diesel fuel oils (D975), considered the definitive standard for diesel fuel oils, plays an important role in fuel that powers heavy vehicles such as trucks, buses, and tractors; it is also cited by biodiesel fuel standards.

With almost all of the world’s transportation energy coming from petroleum-based fuels, alternative fuels represent the possibility of extending the traditional fuel supply and also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: 7 | 13

Region: Asia/Vietnam
Industry: Plastics

Plastic bags are convenient, but, according to the United Nations, if current trends continue, oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Worldwide, a trillion plastic bags are used every year. These bags end up seemingly everywhere, in the stomachs of animals and clinging to tree branches.

Recycling plastic bags has become more common, and many places — including the entire country of Kenya, where penalties await anyone who produces, sells, or carries a plastic bag — now ban or charge for using plastic bags.

In Vietnam, the Directorate for Standards and Quality (STAMEQ) is looking to degradable and biodegradable plastic bags to help contain the problem. Manufacturers are producing these more environmentally friendly bags and mark them as degradable and biodegradable.

STAMEQ aims to develop the ability to test plastic properties in Vietnam so that manufacturers will not need to send samples abroad. The collaboration with ASTM International through a memorandum of understanding provides STAMEQ with access to the standards needed to test the plastic bags. The standards, from ASTM’s committee on plastics (D20), have helped STAMEQ develop tests for degradable and biodegradable plastics.

The MOU has also helped connect STAMEQ with technical experts and labs who have helped the Vietnamese organization understand what laboratories need to do such testing.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: 9 | 12

Region: Africa/Kenya
Industry: Lubricating Oils

The proper use of good engine oils increases the usable lifespan of a car and helps keep the vehicle in good condition. In turn, this supports less pollutive cars and transportation overall.

Lubricating oils help remove heat and wear particles while keeping friction and wear down, and these benefits depend on the composition and structure of the base oil.

Kenya had been having problems with the use of recycled base oil in the manufacture of engine oil, which reduced oil performance. Motorists had to change the oil more frequently, adding expense and time in maintenance.

To respond to the situation, the Kenya Bureau of Standards, through its Committee on Petroleum and Petroleum Products, set to work on a specification for base oil, which has been published as Kenya Standard 2491.

To develop its standard, KEBS relied in particular on the ASTM International guide for characterizing lubricant base oils (D6074) and referenced a number of tests for several oil qualities, including pour point and kinematic viscosity, and water and sulfur determination.

KEBS inspection partners use the standard to check the quality of base oils. Overall, the cases of sub-standard base oils have dropped, and pricing based on inferior, cheaper base oils has decreased. Companies now compete on a more equal footing, one based on quality.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goal: 8

Region: South Asia/Pakistan
Industry: Roofing

Quality infrastructure has been positively related to achieving political, economic, and social growth, and standards must be used in construction to ensure these structures last.

In Pakistan, its booming construction industry shows no signs of slowing down, and the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority has been working to support a growing number of projects.

One project PSQCA took on was creating a Pakistan standard on roofing felts. PSQCA adopted ASTM International’s standard for roofing felts — the specification for asphalt-saturated organic felt (D226) used in roofing and waterproofing — in 2011 as a solution for waterproofing.

Roofing felts are a bitumen product meant to be exposed to weather like rain and snow and are composed of a mixture of organic liquids that are sticky, viscous, and waterproof. Bituminous waterproofing systems protect residential and commercial buildings.

Roof felts provide many benefits for construction: they help protect roofing from the weather or any resins that may bleed out of the sheathing, protect against rain before roofing is installed, and help prevent unevenness in the roof sheathing.

So far, this standard has been used by many Pakistani manufacturers and applied to a number of major projects around the country. For example, Hotel Shalimar in Rawalpindi, and the Hotel Marriott and Habib Bank Plaza in Karachi City have all been built using the ASTM International standard.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: 9 | 11

Region: Eastern Europe/Ukraine
Industry: Steel

In building strong and durable buildings, bridges, and more, the construction industry often turns to reinforced concrete for walls and floors, decking and piers. Concrete reinforced with steel rebar (among other materials) is resistant both to fire and weather. The combination also provides greater tensile strength to resist breaking under tension. And it’s durable.

In Ukraine, 2017 was a record year for the construction industry, with 24 percent growth in new high-rise buildings and homes. Its national standards body, the Ukrainian Scientific Research and Training Center of Issues of Standardization, Certification, and Quality (DSTU), has been working to support these projects.

DSTU has harmonized their standard with ASTM’s specification for reinforcing steel (A615); it applies to material manufactured in Ukraine as well as that imported into Ukraine. The standard covers yield strength requirements for different grades of both cut lengths and coils.

The adoption of this standard will support an expanded market for reinforcing steel and improve the quality of these metal products.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: 9 | 11

Region: Asia/China
Industry: Light Sport Aircraft

The work of ASTM International’s committee on light sport aircraft (F37) has resulted in more than 35 standards that address LSA design and performance — from gliders and powered parachutes to gyroplanes and other light sport aircraft — plus guidance for LSA maintenance manuals, spark ignition engine design, and more.

Wherever they are used, the standards support safety. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration cites the standards, which give the industry guidance regarding design and testing. In China, the standards are helping to create market opportunities for Chinese companies.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China’s Guide on Airworthiness Administration for Light Sports Aircraft now cites close to two dozen ASTM International standards that address various aspects of LSA, including:

  • Design/performance,
  • Operation and safety monitoring,
  • Pilot operation, and
  • Production acceptance.

The guide and the ASTM standards together have enabled CAAC to issue airworthiness certificates for several Chinese LSA models. The standards support a more efficient review of the models and have allowed companies to move products to market more quickly. In addition, studies indicate that the Chinese market for LSA will grow as the craft are used for training, tourism, and flying clubs.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goal: 9

Region: Asia/Vietnam
Industry: Automotive

The Saudi Standards, Metrology, and Quality Organization (SASO) has adopted ASTM International standards for many industries, including petroleum products. The petroleum standards cover liquid fuels, lubricants, and greases, among others. Together the standards help extend the useful life of vehicles and machinery.

One such standard is the classification and specification for automotive service greases (D4950) used for lubricating chasses and bearings in passenger cars and trucks as well as other vehicles. The standard classifies these greases into two general groups, either for wheel bearings or other purposes: ball joints, steering pivots, universal joints, and other chassis components, with further subdivision according to application. For the specification, performance characteristics by temperature range are noted.

Saudi Arabia has required the use of D4950 by referencing the standard in technical regulation. National companies such as the Petromin Co., Alhamrani - Fuchs Petroleum Saudi Arabia Limited Co., and other blending companies use the standard, as do testing laboratories.

The standard controls the quality of grease, and in turn, impacts how long vehicles and machinery can be used. In addition, the standard supports trade between Saudi Arabia and other countries, and limits nonconforming products in Saudi markets.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goal: 9

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