Before you start, ensure that your product is eligible and Certification is right for your product instead of sublicensing or recertification.
A new company must submit the following forms ONCE:
A new application requires the following documents:
Complete and signed paperwork can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. After submission, the applicant will be assigned a BPI Project Manager who will work with them through the process.
There are fees for both BPI Certification and BPI Membership.
Companies new to BPI:
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 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.
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.
The on-product portion of this requirement is particularly important to differentiate compostable products from their non-compostable counterparts and is the visual cue that consumers and end-users will use when determining whether or not to put an item into an organics/compost bin. Composters will use this same information to determine whether or not an item that they receive at their facility represents a contaminant to their operation. Without consistent labeling and identification efforts at the on-product level, it is nearly impossible for compostable products and packaging to be diverted from landfills and receive their appropriate end-of-life.
The BPI Certification Mark Usage Requirements manual provides overviews of current regulatory requirements for compostability messaging in the United States and Canada and shows examples of the BPI Certification Marks in use. BPI has different versions of the BPI Certification Mark available, but all certified products and their packaging must contain the following 5 elements
Before products are added to BPI’s database and listed in the online product catalog or official certificates are issued, representative samples (BPI does not need to see every size in a category if all the artwork is the same) of product and packaging artwork must be submitted to BPI for confirmation that the artwork meets the requirements for use as outlined in the BPI License Agreement. Product and packaging artwork must be confirmed before the certification process is complete. Applicants may submit artwork for review once the application fee has been paid and a testing scheme has been received by the applicant. Once the BPI License Agreement has been signed, BPI can provide watermarked versions of the BPI Certification Mark for preliminary design and review purposes. Once BPI has received all final paperwork and payments, the applicant will receive official BPI Certification Marks, including the Lock Up Version of the BPI Certification Mark that is unique to the applicant company.
BPI also has general industry Guidelines for the Labeling and Identification of Compostable Products and Packaging that provides expanded recommendations and graphical examples for how to label compostable products beyond what is shown in the BPI Certification Mark Usage Requirements.
For more information on labeling, please visit the Labeling FAQ.
For questions about BPI’s artwork requirements and review process, please contact our Marketing Team.
Once a completed application has been submitted and payment for the application invoice has been received, BPI’s technical reviewer will assess the test scheme that will be required to certify the applied-for product. This scheme identifies the tests that must be completed by an external, BPI-Approved Lab to scientifically verify that the items will successfully break down in professionally managed composting facilities without harming the quality of the finished compost. These tests must be completed and the results submitted to BPI for the application to move to the Technical Review phase of the process. The BPI Certification Scheme clarifies all the elements that are required in the Testing phase of the process, and BPI recommends that all applicants read it carefully.
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.
Testing fees are determined and collected by each individual lab and are not part of BPI’s fees.
The time required to complete individual tests varies with current lab capacities. BPI recommends contacting approved labs as soon as a test scheme has been provided to schedule tests and determine how much time to budget for this phase of the process.
Independent laboratories are used for BPI certification, and Members may choose any lab that has been approved by BPI and DIN CERTCO. The approval process ensures the tests are done by an accredited or compliant laboratory capable of doing the tests for ASTM 6400 and 6868.
This is a separate process from the testing an applicant is required to have conducted at an external, BPI-Approved Lab. Applicants are required to submit representative physical samples of the items being certified. The applicant will receive specific instructions on sending these samples to BPI’s technical reviewer for documentation. These verification samples are photographed, measured for thickness and grammage (when applicable), and undergo FTIR analysis. This information is used to validate the composition of the product and the test results provided by the BPI-Approved Lab that the applicant chose to conduct the required testing.
Once all required tests from the test scheme have been completed, the applicant directs the BPI-Approved Lab that conducted the testing to send the results directly to BPI and BPI’s Technical Reviewer.
The technical review begins when BPI’s technical reviewer has received ALL the required test reports, including the verification report from the verification samples provided. The entire process generally takes an average of 4 weeks but can take longer if application volumes are high. The technical reviewer performs a detailed check on formulations, safety data sheets, and test reports to ensure that they meet ASTM standards and BPI’s certification requirements. This includes quality control checks on how the tests were performed and that they were performed on the formulation(s) listed in the application.
Upon successful completion of the Technical Review, the BPI License Agreement and Membership are finalized.
This document details the rights that BPI grants to its Members for use of the BPI Certification Marks. It also provides details on all aspects of the Certification program: including requirements for recertification, information on certificates, control and inspection, and termination. This document must be signed by an officer of the member company.
If the applicant is a new BPI Member, the BPI Membership fee is due at this time. Certificate files will not be sent to the applicant until payment of all outstanding invoices has been received by BPI.
Membership is automatically invoiced at the Certification Member level. Applicants can choose to upgrade to the Full Member level. See membership page for full details.
When the certification process is complete, a BPI Project Manager will send the following items to the BPI Member for the certified or recertified items:
This document confirms the final formulation and specifications that are BPI certified.
A copy of the License Agreement that has been countersigned by BPI’s Executive Director. Keep this on file as it references the terms of the agreement in place between BPI and the member company.
Links to download BPI Certification Mark artwork files.
This document is the best way to provide customers and other interested parties with evidence of BPI Certification.
Please note that the PDF certificate is the official BPI Certificate; no paper copies will be provided to BPI Members, but the PDF can be printed by the applicant, if a physical copy is desired.
BPI-certified products are listed in a searchable catalog on BPI’s website. This catalog allows the public to search for and verify BPI-certified products.
Product listings are populated with the information from the product worksheet and also appear on the BPI Certificate.
Members planning to private label BPI-certified products to their customers can begin the sublicensing process. For information on sublicensing, please visit the Sublicense page or contact your BPI Project Manager.
Ready to get started? Download this checklist of the certification process.