Backgrounds & Definitions

Compostable Food Serviceware Quick-Guide

PDF, Last Updated Apr 2015

The compostable food service ware quick guide was designed as a tool (distributed by the USCC) for the composter and hauler community. Its purpose is to help composters/haulers determine if a product is, by standards of science and direct product testing in facilities, compostable. This document also provides information on differences in terminology. This is intended to minimize confusion related to items that may be perceived as compostable (as in “made from plants” or “biodegradable”), and to make composters aware that these items may not meet compostability standards.

Frequently Asked Questions (compostable bags and products) - BPI

PDF, Last Updated Feb 2014

This one-page information sheet from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), answers three frequently asked questions about compostable products: 1. What makes a bag or other product compostable? 2. Can I put compostable products in my backyard compost bin? 3. How can I be sure products are really compostable?

Survey of Waste Professionals Compostable Plastics Knowledge

PDF, Last Updated Jan 2014

The survey was designed to gauge what municipal waste management professionals know about compostable plastics and to identify the most valuable resources to help municipal waste professionals manage compostable plastics. The survey was distributed via email to approximately 2,500 waste industry and government online listserv recipients, including regional Technical Advisory Councils, State Recycling Coordinators, the California Resource Recovery Association, the US Composting Council, and members of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network.

Compostable or not? Your guide to which products and packaging should be composted

Webpage, Last Updated Jan 2014

Composting has many benefits—reduces waste, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, creates jobs—but at the end of the day, it’s really about one thing: soil. And if you think about it, our future is really about that same thing, our soil. Without healthy soils, we can’t grow the food we need to survive, and countless other organisms will suffer too. This informational webpage includes a 4-step guide to preventing plastics pollution.

The Bio Plastics Burden

Webpage, Last Updated Dec 2013

An overview article on bioplastics from the September 2011 issue of Waste Age. This article discusses a potential boom in the bioplastics industry in the near future, but also the concerns with the varied end-of-life requirements for compostable plastics that some waste haulers and composters have expressed.

Compostable or Not? Your Guide to Which Products and Packaging Should be Composted.

Website, Last Updated Dec 2013

This informational webpage from Eco-Cycle is a guide to determining which products and packaging should be composted. It includes a 4-step guide to preventing plastic pollution.

Bioplastics Industry Report

PDF, Last Updated Dec 2013

This article from BioCycle Magazine reviews the compostables sector of the bioplastics industry has been making significant inroads, especially with starchbased and PLA resins.

Compostable Plastics Task Force (CPTF)

Webpage, Last Updated Jul 2013

The Compostable Plastics Task Force (CPTF) is an ad-hoc committee of the U.S. Composting Council. Its mission is to provide an organizational structure that facilitates a dialog among plastics producers, product manufacturers, purchasers and consumers of compostable plastic products, recycling and organics recovery program managers, and composters. To influence the ongoing development of compostable plastics so that materials benefit the composting industry through increased organic waste capture, and don’t add undue burdens including non-compostability of materials and added residue disposal.

Compostable Plastics: Opportunities and Challenges

Webinar, Last Updated Jul 2011

This US Composting Council webinar from July 2011 explains what compostable plastics are (and are not), where they are being successfully used, and examines some of the key challenges, such as identification and labeling, certification and standards, infrastructure development and consumer education.

Compostable Plastics 101

PDF, Last Updated Jan 2011

This white paper presents a basic overview of compostable plastics, including a review of definitions, standards for biodegradability, identification, and challenges consumers face. The paper was sponsored by the California Organics Recycling Council, a technical Committee of the California Resource Recovery Association.

Fundamental Principles and Concepts of Biodegradability — Sorting Through the Facts, Hypes, and Claims of Biodegradable Plastics in the Marketplace

PDF, Last Updated Mar 2010

This paper discusses biodegradability as an end-of-life option, how to measure biodegradability, and the requirement of the plastic to breakdown completely by the microbial food chain.

Compostable Plastics Fact Sheet

PDF, Last Updated Jan 2009

A Compostable Plastics study sponsored by Calrecycle that includes information ranging from definitions and statutes to ongoing research, why compostable plastic is used, and its affect on the waste stream.

This toolkit is designed to help you determine if a compostable plastics program is appropriate for your organization and to guide you in properly managing your compostable plastics.

*Resources outlined in this toolkit are examples from a variety of sources to help facilitate a better understanding of compostable products and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF).

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