Abstract A total of 216 strains of bacteria capable of degrading various biodegradable materials were isolated from different natural environments. Of these 216 strains, 20 strains with strong degrading ability were selected through a series of single-strain parallel degradation experiments to construct a microbial community capable of causing degradation. These 20 strains were classified and identified by 16S rRNA sequence analysis and the BIOLOG MicroLog™ System analysis. In accordance with the ISO 14852 method, the natural inoculum was substituted with the microbial community and the biodegradability of 14 kinds of biodegradable materials was determined by this improved ISO 14852 method. The results were compared with those collected with the standard ISO 14852 method using fertile soil as the natural inoculum. The results showed that the improved ISO 14852 method can effectively evaluate the biodegradability of the biodegradable materials in shorter time and it should be highly reproducible.