Certification FAQ

  • Certification
  • Sublicense


How long does it take / timeline?

The entire process can take up to six months or more depending on the test scheme required and both the readiness and attentiveness of the applicant. Testing at a BPI-Approved Lab is often the longest part of the process. Tests like Metals, Ash, and FTIR can take less than one month, but timelines depend on available lab capacity, which is outside of BPI’s ability to control. Disintegration testing takes a minimum of 3 months, and biodegradation testing takes a minimum of 6 months. When all tests are submitted and samples are sent, the technical review process generally takes 4 weeks to complete.

How much does it cost?

There are fees for BPI Certification, BPI Recertification, BPI Sublicensing, and BPI Membership.

Certification: The application fee is $1,500 USD for new certifications, $500 of which is non-refundable. Using non-certified ingredients may result in additional application fees. Certifications are valid for 3 years.
Recertification: It is required at 3 years and is $1,000. 
Sublicensing: If the Licensee and Sublicensee are both active BPI Full Members there is no separate cost for a sublicense. 
If the Sublicensee is not a BPI Member:
The Sublicensee will be a Reseller. The annual cost of a sublicense for a Reseller is $500/year USD per licensee, which will be prorated based on the original certificate’s expiration date. Either the licensee or sublicensee can be billed directly for this invoice.
The BPI Membership and Licensing fee is due every year, with the cost dependent upon the selected membership level. BPI offers different membership categories with varying benefits and annual costs to best fit the needs of member companies. Please visit BPI Membership for details on membership options and costs.

What testing is required?

All certifications and recertifications require, at a minimum, Heavy Metals / Fluorine / Cobalt, Ash (VOC), FTIR, and thickness and grammage (if applicable) measurements. These must have been conducted within the past 12 months. Depending on the specific formulation, other tests might be required on the end product or certain ingredients, as described below. These tests do not have an expiration date for validity purposes. 

Biodegradation testing measures the inherent ability of organic carbon in a material to be consumed by microorganisms and shows that the material or item will not accumulate in nature. 

Disintegration testing measures whether the finished item physically breaks down and falls apart, demonstrates that the item will not create visual contamination in the compost, and indicates that the item is being successfully attacked by microorganisms (so that the carbon is readily available for biodegradation). It is based on the maximum thickness (or grammage for natural fiber) of the finished item. The maximum thickness/grammage of the product used for the disintegration test determines the certified maximum thickness/grammage for the item. Resins and components should be certified to a maximum thickness/usage that will cover the thickest/densest usage of the resin/component by customers. 

Compost Quality testing includes Metals / Fluorine, Ash (VOC), and FTIR, as well as tests for ecotoxicity. These tests and restrictions are designed to ensure that the compostable material or item does not have negative effects on compost quality. 

To read further on all tests refer to the BPI Certification Scheme

Can I label the package but not the product?

No, both must be labeled. The BPI License Agreement requires all BPI-certified products (e.g. bags, cups, cutlery wrappers, forks, pouches) and packaging (both consumer- and market-facing) for BPI-certified products to display the BPI Certification Mark unless an exemption has been granted in writing.

If my supplier is certified, does that mean I am?

No. BPI Certification is granted through an executed license or sublicense agreement. Your company must obtain a license to use the BPI-Certification mark which is earned through the certification process or by sublicensing a finished product that is already BPI-Certified. To learn more visit the “Before you Start” page.

How is maximum thickness determined and why is it important?

Resins and Finished Products are certified up to a maximum thickness, as determined by a disintegration test. Prior to the disintegration test, the BPI-approved lab will measure each unique part of an item and calculate the average thickness for each unique part. For paper- and other substrate-based materials, grammage will also be measured.

When resins are tested for disintegration, film samples that have been made out of that resin are typically tested. When a three-dimensional item such as a cup or piece of cutlery is tested in support of a resin certificate, the measurement of the thinnest part of that item is used as the resin’s max thickness. For instance, a bag with a simple heat-sealed edge would be measured at both the seam and a single layer of the bag wall/film. The max thickness of the resin would equal the measurement of the single layer of the bag wall/film and not the thickness of the seam, since there is no evidence to support that a product of uniform thickness at the seam’s higher thickness would break down within the specified timeframe.

Are BPI-certified items PFAS-free?

The BPI Certification Scheme states that organic fluorinated chemicals, such as perfluorinated and polyfluorinated substances, cannot be present in formulas for BPI Certified items. BPI's rules for fluorinated chemicals are as follows:

1) The product formula must not contain fluorinated chemicals — as evidenced by safety data sheets for all ingredients.

2) Test results from a BPI-Approved lab showing a maximum of 100ppm total organic fluorine.

3) A statement of no intentionally added fluorinated chemicals, signed by the manufacturer.

Read more here.


What is a sublicense?

A sublicense allows the BPI Certification Mark to be used by a customer of a BPI Member on private label products for resale under the customer's brand. It is a legally binding agreement that includes product titles and SKUs from the BPI Member and their customer. The customer is given access to the BPI Certification Mark files, including a version with their own unique BPI Cert Number to display on the sublicensed products and their packaging, and the products are listed under the customer’s name in BPI’s database of certified products online (products.bpiworld.org).

Does a sublicense authorize a company to manufacture a certified product or its packaging?

No. All sublicensed products must be manufactured by the BPI Member Certificate Holder at authorized facilities, without exception. If any modifications, such as printing or date labeling, are made by the customer, then BPI must be informed ahead of time or they risk losing the certification. 

When is a Sublicense Necessary?

If the license holder company is not identifiable on the product (printed items only) and packaging (all items) then it needs to be sublicensed. The company/brand selling the product must have the license to use the BPI Certification Mark whether through a certification or a sublicense.

Can all BPI-Certified items be sublicensed?

No. BPI-certified resins, film, granules, components, and intermediates cannot be sublicensed for resale purposes, only finished products. A company can purchase these materials from a supplier to use in a finished product, but the finished product must go through the certification process. Additionally, pet waste bags are restricted to distribution in Canada only.

The sublicensed product must be completely covered by the tests conducted for certification by the licensee. For example, if packaging film uses a hot-sealed edge that is not covered by the original film certificate's disintegration test, the film cannot be directly sublicensed.)

If your company is looking to sublicense from a BPI Member, please visit our searchable catalog for a list of BPI-certified products. You will need approval from the licensee in order to move forward with the sublicense process.