• Compostability warming house with purple light illuminating in the background
  • 2 row of plants in the green house
  • Employee looking at plants in the greenhouse to see the progress
  • Plants in a row in numbered pots

Compostable Certificate

Many packaging products contaminated with food residue are unacceptable by existing recycling processes. Composting is an attractive alternative to avoiding landfill disposal, thus reducing the environmental footprint.

Food waste and unrecovered paper make up almost 50% of what we landfill in the US today. In the landfill these materials slowly decompose and create greenhouse gases like methane. These materials could be diverted to compost facilities where they quickly breakdown and the residual compost can be used to enhance farm soil.

Our offer

Compostable claims for consumer products must be made clear, with full consideration of appropriate scientific standards, state and federal regulations, and local infrastructure. The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) Compostable Certification is the only verification of industrial compostable products in North America. This certification guides manufacturers, composters, and consumers to understand, identify, and trust that an item is compostable and can be diverted with food scraps where programs exist.

Our offer

Western Michigan University Paper Pilot Plant provides compostability testing of paper and plastic products—and assesses compostable resins, intermediates, components, and final products. WMU’s protocol was developed according to ASTM standards D6868, D6400, and D8410, and supports manufacturers in registering and certifying their products to receive the BPI Compostable Certification mark.

Description of methods

ASTM D6400 (plastic products) and ASTM D6868 (paper products) specify the requirements for labeling products designed to be aerobically composted in municipal or industrial facilities. The entire testing procedure can take six to nine months to complete. All tests are graded on a pass/fail basis. The testing item must pass all tests to be eligible to claim industrial compostable certification. The requirements include four critical tests:

  • Biodegradation test

    — Method ASTM D5338 (equivalent to ISO 14855) (Six months)

    The testing item must demonstrate a satisfactory biodegradation rate by achieving that >90% of organic carbon will be converted to CO2 within 180 days under a controlled composting environment compared to a positive reference (cellulose) or in absolute.

  • Disintegration test

    — Method ISO 20200 (Lab-scale) (Three months)

    The disintegration test investigates whether the item will disintegrate (break down) during the composting process, and that any residuals are not readily distinguishable from the finished compost. In this test, the item (in reduced size) is blended with certified compost plus biomass to perform a composting process for 84 days under a controlled environment. To pass this test, >90% of the original weight must pass a 2mm sieve.

  • Ecotoxicity test (Plant Growth)

    — Method OECD 208 (Two months)

    The item shall not adversely impact the ability of composts to support plant growth compared to a controlled soil. On completion of the disintegration test, the resultant compost materials will be used to perform a plant growth test, where two species of plants (Monocot and Dicot) are tested. To pass this test, the germination rate and the biomass of the sample composts must exceed 90% of the corresponding blank soil. Additionally, the test material must have concentrations of regulated metals less than 50% in Table 3 of 40 CFR Part 503.13 (US). This test takes one to two months to complete.

    In addition, BPI requires the total fluorine content of the testing item not to exceed 100 ppm.

  • Total Fluorine and FT-IR

    In addition to requirements specified in ASTM D6400 and D6868, BPI requires the total fluorine content of the test item not to exceed 100 ppm. The FT-IR profile of the testing item needs to be submitted to BPI as a reference.

Total Fluorine and FT-IR

Cost and requirements:

A dry weight of >5lb of test materials in its finished form is required per sample.

Compostability breakdown menu

TestFee single sample20% off multi-sample
Plant Ecotoxicity$2,750$2,200
Heavy metal, Flourine, Ash, FT-IR$1,550
Bio-based Content$950