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Eligibility FAQ

Is my product, package or material eligible for BPI Certification?

In addition to meeting the technical standards in the certification scheme and the BPI Certification Mark requirements in the License Agreement, all products, packages, and materials must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • The item must be associated with desirable organic wastes, like food scraps and yard trimmings, that are collected for composting. 
  • The item cannot be a redesign of an item that is a better fit for recycling based on existing demand, infrastructure, and consumer awareness (e.g., water bottles).
  • The item cannot require disassembly in order to be composted.

For more information on eligibility, please see Appendix B - BPI Eligibility Requirements in the Certification Scheme.  

    Has BPI changed its eligibility requirements recently?

    No. These requirements have been in place for some time now. What has changed is BPI’s ability to properly evaluate the large volume of applications we receive, thanks to a larger Certification Team and other staff. 

    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 specifically with biodegradation and disintegration. BPI requires additional tests that help make sure compost quality will not be negatively affected by having products and packaging breaking down in it, namely testing for fluorinated chemicals, heavy metals, and plant toxicity. 

    Along with these additional tests, BPI takes steps to try and protect composters from being sent 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 to food waste - the material they are really after. It is a widely held belief in the composting world that accepting food waste also means accepting packaging into their facilities, and one of BPI’s primary goals is making sure composters have a way to verify whether the products and packaging they see in their streams is compostable or not. This is wny BPI does not certify products and packaging that aren’t associated with desirable feedsocks (materials that composters want), and why we take into account acceptance likelihood at compost facilities when assessing eligibility. 

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

    Generally speaking, 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. We did a blog post on this in 2019 that provides some insight into our thinking. 

    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 it on all products. 

    What if the item I am interested in certifying is new and hasn’t had the chance to gain acceptance in a “majority of commercial compost facilities”?

    For new technologies that meet ASTM standards for compostability but have yet to gain market traction, BPI has an advisory panel of composters that will evaluate the new product or package, and help BPI make a determination on eligibility. 

    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. 

    What do I do if I have questions about eligibility? 

    Please send us an email here and we’ll be happy to help talk through your questions.

    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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