Contamination of all kinds, particularly contamination from non-compostable products, is one of the biggest challenges composters face. A big reason contamination is such a challenge is because, unlike recycling systems that have a variety of sortation technologies and processes available to them, many composters have a limited ability to efficiently and cost-effectively sort contamination out of the material that comes into their facilities. This means that contamination has an enormous impact on a composter’s business and their ability to produce quality products for their customers.
Most of BPI’s current work on contamination mitigation is focused on labeling and identification. Thorough and consistent on-item labeling is the basis for all other identification and education mechanisms, and is essential for scalable organics collection and processing systems that include compostable products.
BPI’s work on labeling and identification can be organized into the following categories:
- BPI Rules and Requirements – BPI’s rules require all non-exempt items to be labeled with the BPI Certification Mark, and requires the Mark to be used on all consumer and market-facing packaging. BPI Certification Staff is currently working with Member companies on a program-wide compliance review to ensure that all BPI-Certified items meet the requirements. All printed items and consumer-facing packaging have been reviewed, and any non-compliant items remaining in the market are the result of legacy inventory positions. Artwork for all non-printed items and market-facing packaging is currently being reviewed, and must be updated by December 31, 2023.
- Best Practices for Labeling and Identification – In the fall of 2020, BPI released Guidelines for the Labeling and Identification of Compostable Products and Packaging, a document designed to help manufacturers and brands develop labeling strategies for their products and packaging that make it possible for end-users and composters to “readily and easily” differentiate compostable from non-compostable products. This document is currently being reviewed in BPI’s Communications Committee and will be updated and re-released in early 2023 to reflect changes in the regulatory environment and BPI-led consumer research on the efficacy of different labeling techniques and elements.
- Policy Recommendations for Regulators – BPI is engaged with regulators across the US and Canada on every issue that affects compostable products and organics diversion, and labeling is no different. The current guidance on labeling and identification policy is being updated by a joint task force made up of Members from BPI and the US Composting Council in an effort to make sure the composter perspective is reflected in messaging to regulators. The updated document will be available in late 2022.