Labeling Compostable Products and Packaging

14 Aug 2019 12:49 PM | Wendell Simonson (Administrator)

The topic of how to properly label compostable products has always a been a big part of the broader discussion around keeping organics out of landfills. Even when a compostable product has been tested and certified, users of an improperly labeled product won't know what bin to put it in, and composters won't know whether or not it is a contaminant. The threat of contamination is often cited as a major factor by composters for not accepting certified products and packaging.

Properly labeling compostable products is now more important than ever due to new legislation from the state of Washington that not only requires compostable products sold in that state to meet ASTM standards (like legislation in California and Maryland), but also requires them to be "readily and easily identifiable". This includes the use of a third-party certification logo, use of the term "compostable", and use of green or brown labeling. California is looking at similar legislation to reduce contamination, and we fully expect other states to follow suit.

Most importantly, studies suggest that compostable products and packaging are a crucial lynchpin in the effort to divert the millions of tons of food scraps that go to landfills every year. Without proper labeling, there is a good chance these products won't make it into the right bin, and even if they do, composters might not accept the material.

For these reasons, the BPI License Agreement states that certified products must carry an approved version of the BPI logo, unless there are space constraints or technical limitations agreed upon with BPI ahead of time. BPI has recently asked all of its members to review their current labeling on both products and packaging, and to make a good faith effort to bring it in line with Washington's new legislation by July 1, 2020. This includes submitting proof of use of the BPI logo on certified products and packaging.

On behalf of everyone at BPI, we would like to thank our members for not only bringing to market a wide array of compostable options for products and packaging, but also labeling them in a way that will help end-users, composters, and others identify them appropriately and accurately.

BPI is a science-driven organization that supports a shift to the circular economy by promoting the production, use, and appropriate end of lives for materials and products that are designed to fully biodegrade in specific biologically active environments.

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