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On Your Mark


The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) has recently announced a partnership with the NSF, a global certification organization to help it certify compostable plastics.
If you have been involved with compostable plastics at all you will know that it has been a long road with huge doses of countervailing scientific conjecture, counterclaims and confusion. BPI and more recently BNQ has brought some simple clarity through marks that can be readily identified. Their popularity has grown.
As Steve Mojo, BPI’s Executive Director points out “Our membership has really grown and we are now at about 130 members with about a total of 250 products.”
With re-certification required every three years this taxed BPI’s resources. While all testing has always been completed by third parties the administration was completed by BPI. The new arrangement frees up some of BPI’s time to focus on issues important to its members. In the US this includes petition the USDA to allow composts that included compostable products to be used on organic farms.
One criticism levelled by some was that BPI was just an industry organization and therefore somehow not able to facilitate independent verification and certification. (As a rule industry organizations are there to enhance an industry’s credibility and BPI is no exception.).
Notwithstanding this change allows BPI to achieve ISO Guide 65 (Specifies general requirements for third-party operating a product certification system) compliance.
This is a positive development for a mark that is well recognized in the US and Canada. Even so, as evidenced at the recent US Composting Council conference, there is still confusion being sown, by less scrupulous businesses trying to capitalize on environmentally positive products by creating facsimiles and packaging with clever but misleading wording. This makes the mark even more important.
As compostable products continue to grow it will be essential that consumers know what they are buying. They will need clarity from the industry. Ultimately, in my estimation, there should be a single North American mark. One mark. Real simple.


NSF International to Administer BPI Certification Program
To handle a five-fold increase in compostable product certifications, the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) today announced that it’s successful “Compostable Logo” effort will be administered by NSF International (Ann Arbor, MI) beginning in January 2012.
The NSF is a global certification organization which will verify manufacturers’ claims of compostability in large-scale composting facilities. Companies submit products and testing data to substantiate the biodegradation, disintegration and absence of eco-toxicity of their products including compostable bags, foodservice items, packaging materials, and other consumer products. After certification, manufacturers, authorized distributors and resellers may then license the BPI’s “Compostable Logo” for marketing claims.
NSF International will now accept and review certification requests to ensure that all BPI-certified products continue to meet ASTM D6400 or ASTM D6868 standards for compostability. Actual licensing and market development efforts will remain the responsibility of the BPI.
NSF is a global leader in third-party, independent product certification and testing, and is actively involved in the development of global public health standards. NSF brings to the BPI’s certification program more than 65 years’ experience, including national and international accreditations, and global operations that today serve more than 10,000 certification customers in 150 countries worldwide.
The new service agreement is designed to bolster the credibility and capability of the 10-year old BPI “Compostable Logo” program, which has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. By partnering with NSF, the BPI certification program will also comply with the requirements of ISO Guide 65, the internationally recognized standard for third-party certification bodies.
“The BPI Compostable Logo is widely recognized by consumers, composters and municipal officials throughout North America as the preferred trademark to assure compostability in commercial facilities,” said Steven A. Mojo, BPI’s executive director. “As more companies recognize the importance and value of food waste diversion and composting, coupled with the increasing importance of responsible environmental marketing claims about compostability, we anticipate even more growth in the years ahead”.
“NSF International’s expertise and recognition in both product certification and sustainability will increase the credibility of the BPI’s effort,” stated Tom Bruursema, General Manager NSF Sustainability, a division of NSF International. “Our new partnership will create a strong foundation to support BPI’s anticipated growth.”
According to Mojo, this agreement will also enable the BPI to expand its educational and marketing activities for compostable products throughout North America. “While product certification is the foundation of BPI’s mission, our members look to us to act as a leading advocate for the key issues that face all manufacturers of compostable products in North America,” added Mojo. “This agreement allows BPI to handle more product certifications while expanding its reach to better serve the needs of our industry.”
The BPI awarded the first “Compostable Logo” in 2002 in an effort to distinguish compostable plastic applications from ones made of traditional non-degradable plastics. Since then more than 238 products have been certified by BPI by more than 130 global companies.
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