WIST Compostability Testing Laboratory is certified by Biodegradable Products Institute

WIST testing can help with new product development 

Companies whose products pass compostability testing by the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology can now market those items using the certification logo of the Biodegradable Products Institute. (See the BPI website for further information on logo usage requirements.) The BPI logo assures consumers that the product to which it is affixed has been independently tested and verified as compostable according to scientific standards.

WIST becomes just the fourth laboratory in the United States approved by BPI to perform the third-party testing. The institute established its compostability testing laboratory in 2012 and the laboratory has previously earned ISO 17025 certification, indicating its compliance with strict quality and management standards. 

WIST tests materials according to standards established by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). The laboratory is certified to perform ASTM D6400 for plastics and D6868 for paper products. The tests determine whether a product will be reduced to compost under industrial - not backyard - composting conditions. 

If materials pass the compostability testing, companies may work with BPI on additional steps required to use the consumer-trusted logo on their product.

Consumers are increasingly demanding products that don't have to end up in a landfill after use. Recycling is one way to keep material out of the dump but composting, which degrades material into usable plant food or mulch, is also seen as a viable alternative. And for items contaminated by food waste, such as packaging or single-use serving containers, composting is often the preferred solution.

However, consumers don't always have an easy way to tell whether a particular item will compost. That's where clear labeling comes in. The state of Washington in 2019 passed legislation requiring that products claiming compostability must be labeled with a logo indicating independent certification according to ASTM standards. Other states are considering similar legislation. 

Paul Fowler, executive director of WIST, said the BPI approval is timely, given recent market and regulatory trends.

"We've seen a lot of new interest in compostability testing as retailers and brands announce their intention to ensure their single-use packaging is either recyclable, reusable or compostable," Fowler said. "Along with our ISO certification and experienced staff, this gives companies another reason to look to WIST for compostability testing."


Amber Davidson, WIST Compostability Testing Laboratory Manager, checks equipment in the laboratory. Contact Amber.Davidson@uwsp.edu to learn more about WIST testing and to quote costs and time frames for your product testing.