Oct 23, 2023
Request would expand allowed materials for organic compost

The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) is seeking changes to the USDA’s National Organic Program that would update allowed compost feedstocks — compost ingredients — to include packaging materials that weren’t available nearly 25 years ago when the regulations were set.

The BPI petitioned the USDA’s National Organic Program in late August to consider the changed, which led to the NOP to request the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) discuss the issue and make recommendations.

USDA National Organic Program logo sealThe BPI’s request centers on new laws — the petition letter includes regulations in California and Washington — that concern composting.

“Its purpose is to bring the NOP compost regulations into a stable and working relationship with emerging state laws that address the climate crisis—laws that mandate the composting of post-consumer food waste and the reduction or elimination of single-use plastic packaging that cannot be recycled or composted,” according to the petition.

The BPI asks that materials and products that meet American Society of Testing Materials standards for compostability be allowed as compost feedstocks. Those materials are allowed as food contact substances in organic food packaging, according to the BPI, yet not allowed as compost feedstock.

  • The NOP issued a memo to the NOSB on the request, asking for its feedback on the issue. According to the USDA, the NOSP has “also expressed interest in” the topic.
  • The NOP is asking the NOSB to consider:
  • How previous board work on related topics may be relevant to the topic.
  • How recommended changes may effect alternative composting methods allowed by the NOP and whether these production methods should be included in USDA organic regulations.
  • How unavoidable residual environmental contamination and potential contamination of compost by commonly composted materials can be addressed.

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