Feb 032012

The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) has recently announced a partnership with the NSF, a global certification organization to help it certify compostable plastics.

If you have been involved with compostable plastics at all you will know that it has been a long road with huge doses of countervailing scientific conjecture, counterclaims and confusion. BPI and more recently BNQ has brought some simple clarity through marks that can be readily identified.  Their popularity has grown.

 As Steve Mojo, BPI’s Executive Director points out “Our membership has really grown and we are now at about 130 members with about a total of 250 products.”

 With re-certification required every three years this taxed BPI’s resources. While all testing has always been completed by third parties the administration was completed by BPI. The new arrangement frees up some of BPI’s time to focus on issues important to its members. In the US this includes petition the USDA to allow composts that included compostable products to be used on organic farms.

 One criticism levelled by some was that BPI was just an industry organization and therefore somehow not able to facilitate independent verification and certification. (As a rule industry organizations are there to enhance an industry’s credibility and BPI is no exception.).

 Notwithstanding this change allows BPI to achieve ISO Guide 65 (Specifies general requirements for third-party operating a product certification system) compliance.

This is a positive development for a mark that is well recognized in the US and Canada. Even so, as evidenced at the recent US Composting Council conference, there is still confusion being sown, by less scrupulous businesses trying to capitalize on environmentally positive products by creating facsimiles and packaging with clever but misleading wording. This makes the mark even more important.

 As compostable products continue to grow it will be essential that consumers know what they are buying. They will need clarity from the industry. Ultimately, in my estimation, there should be a single North American mark. One mark. Real simple.

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