Our compostability testing service is helping packaging and other manufacturers meet the growing demand for biodegradable materials.
WIST lab achieves ISO 17025 Certification
WIST's Compostability Testing Laboratory has been certified by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to meet ISO 17025 standards.
“This certification is a strong endorsement of the professionalism of our staff and the care we take with our work," said Paul Fowler, WIST executive director. “This achievement is the result of a team effort and a commitment to quality all the way through our organization.”
The rigorous certification process actually took more than a year, as WIST staff examined every aspect of the testing laboratory and drafted a quality policy manual and standard operating procedures, created a records-keeping system and upgraded equipment where needed. As part of the process all lab personnel completed third-party proficiency testing. An ANAB assessor then audited the laboratory over several days in October 2015 and recommended certification.
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The Federal Trade Commission's "Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims," commonly called the Green Guides, outline how companies may advertise environmental attributes of their products. WIST compostability testing helps companies understand the compostability profile of their products. With that information, they may make certain claims regarding compostability in their marketing.
Compostable packaging is becoming more important, particularly in the food industry. For one thing, packaging contaminated with food or composed of several different types of material is difficult to recycle. Compostability provide a useful alternative solution. At the same time, consumers are increasingly aware of environmental impacts and companies have an opportunity to gain market share by addressing consumer concerns. Compostable materials can be diverted from landfills and the compost put to productive use, yielding a double environmental gain.
Regulatory change is adding to the demand for biodegradable packaging. Some communities, such as Seattle, have banned from landfills single-use food packaging, napkins, beverage cups and related items. Those must be composted or recycled. And the push to divert food waste from landfills has created a market for "bio bags" – biodegradable bags used to collect food waste. The bag and food waste can all be tossed in the compost bin.
Paper products typically require additional coatings or other modifications to perform well as food containers, and that affects how well they decompose. Manufacturers are scrambling to develop compostable packaging, but only a handful of labs currently offer testing in the U.S.
WIST's testing protocol is designed to meet US standards for compostability. The testing protocol includes three stages:
- Disintegration trial
- Plant seed germination trial
- Biodegradability trial.
The disintegration trial tests how well the material will break down in a stable environment. The plant germination trial determines how well the material will germinate seeds. Finally, in a biodegradability trial, the material being tested is placed in a sealed vessel, and instruments record the amount of CO2 generated. CO2 is produced during decomposition and release of CO2 is then compared to that of cellulose decomposition. Cellulose is what paper and paperboard is typically made of, and provides a baseline for compostability comparison.