• Certification
  • Membership
  • Sublicense
  • Eligibility
  • Labeling


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 are the different Membership options?

Companies that hold active certificates with BPI can choose between Certification Membership or Full Membership.

Certification Membership is the default Membership type for companies holding certificates with BPI, and includes the right to use the BPI Certification Mark in addition to basic communications like newsletters and Member webinars.

Full Membership is for companies looking to support BPI’s efforts to expand acceptance of compostable products, and to provide input on those efforts through committee participation and Board eligibility.

Companies and organizations that do not hold active certificates with BPI, but are interested in supporting and engaging with BPI on Certification, Education, and Advocacy topics can become Stakeholder Industry Members.

Composters and Municipalities can join as Stakeholder Composter/Municipality Members.

What are the fees and how do I apply?

All of the fees, tier details, and directions for applying can be found on this page.

How do I get access to the BPI Member Hub?

The BPI Member Hub is exclusively for BPI Full and Stakeholder Members.  If your company or organization is a Full or Stakeholder member then you can request access.  The BPI Member Hub is where you will find all of BPI’s committee documents, an industry events calendar, the Bill Tracker, and more. You can navigate to the Member Hub from this page.

Full and Stakeholder Members have been given access so will be able to log in. If you're having trouble with access please reach out to membership@bpiworld.org.  

How do I join the BPI Board of Directors and what is the commitment?

BPI holds elections for its Board of Directors in the fourth quarter of every calendar year, with nomination forms sent in advance. Terms are three years and start January 1. Full Members and Composter / Municipality Stakeholder Members are eligible (one spot per election cycle is held for a Composter / Municipality). The Board meets monthly, with the majority of meetings via conference call for 1.5 hours, along with 2-3 in-person meetings (typically these are a half day). The first meeting of the year is at the US Composting Council’s annual conference in January. Each BPI Member company receives a single vote in the election.


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.


Why isn’t meeting the ASTM standards for compostability enough to make an item eligible for BPI-Certification?

BPI has a number of requirements that go beyond what ASTM requires.

ASTM 6400 and 6868 are technical standards for compostability in commercial compost environments, and they deal largely with biodegradation, disintegration, heavy metals, and ecotoxicity. On January 1, 20220, BPI instituted rules for Fluorinated Chemicals (PFAS) that require all certified items to be below 100ppm total fluorine, accompanied by a signed statement from the manufacturer stating that no intentionally added fluorinated chemicals are present in the formulation.

BPI also takes steps to try and protect composters from receiving items they don’t want, even if they are technically compostable. Unlike recycling, where recapturing the actual product or packaging material is the goal, composters generally accept compostable products and packaging as a means for getting food scraps and yard trimmings.

Making the decision to accept even certified compostable items comes with increased risks of contamination from non-compostable products. Contamination from non-compostable products is the biggest challenge composters accepting compostable products face, and is the main reason composters decide not to accept compostable products.

Limiting eligibility to items that are associated with the diversion of desirable feedstocks like food scraps and yard trimmings helps keep the total volume of products and packaging in organics streams lower, and is one way to help address contamination challenges for composters.

How do you determine whether or not an item is “associated with the diversion of desirable feedstocks like food scraps and yard trimmings”?

BPI evaluates how the product or packaging is used, the likelihood that it will be discarded alongside other organics, and/or the probability that it will be used to facilitate the diversion of organics. A detailed list of all current in scope and out of scope items that is regularly evaluated by BPII’s Composter & Municipality Committee can be found in Appendix B of BPI’s Certification Scheme.

What’s an example of a product that is ineligible because it is a better fit for recycling?

Corrugate packaging that is not food soiled is a commonly inquired about item for BPI certification. Clean corrugate is a widely recycled material, and while it can meet ASTM standards for compostability depending on the exact formulation, it is a better fit for the recycling stream. Food soiled corrugate (like all food soiled packaging) is not a good fit for recycling, and corrugate applications destined to be food soiled could be a fit for BPI certification.

Water bottles are another great example. They are widely accepted in recycling streams and have a clear fit for recycling. A compostable water bottle would complicate the process and confuse the consumer, recycler, and composter.


What is BPI's position on the labeling of compostable products and packaging?

The BPI License Agreement requires that the BPI Certification Mark is used on all non-exempt certified items, consumer-facing packaging, and market-facing packaging. A Member-wide compliance exercise on this requirement has concluded for printed items and consumer-facing packaging, and will be ongoing for non-printed items and market-facing packaging until the artwork review deadline on December 31, 2023.

Why do you require that the BPI Certification Mark is represented on the product itself in addition to the packaging?

The most important audiences in any conversation about labeling and identification of compostable products and packaging are Consumers, End-Users and Composters. In residential and commercial environments, consumers and end-users are generally tasked with determining which bin to put their products and packaging in after use. In this way, they are the first line of defense in the effort to provide composters with a contaminant-free stream of organic material. How can we expect people to make the correct decision at the point of disposal if products and packaging are not clearly labeled as compostable? And how are composters supposed to verify whether the products and packaging showing up in their facilities are compostable or not? The BPI Certification Mark exists to make the identification of certified items possible, and it is for these reasons that we require it on all non-exempt items.

What items are exempt from labeling due to space limitations or technical constraints?

There are a small number of specific product categories that are exempt from BPI’s requirement to use the Mark on the item itself. That list is available here and is regularly evaluated by BPI’s Composter & Municipality Committee.

What is the process for updating a certification to include printing ink(s)?

Companies can submit an updated application for a Modification which is $500. They must document the percent of ink, provide an SDS for the ink(s), and do a metals test. If inks are used above .1%, a plant toxicity test will be required. More info on tests can be found in BPI's Commercial Compostability Certification Scheme.