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Recap from the U.S. Composting Council Annual Conference

Posted by Luke on February 2, 2010

I spent most of last week in Orlando at the U.S. Composting Council’s annual conference.  The organization continues to grow and the conferences seem to get better every year.  There were a few trends and pieces of news worthy of sharing that seemed to be apparent at the conference.

  • Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection has committed to diverting 75% of their waste by 2020.  Wow, that’s a lofty goal – the highest of any state and 2.5 times their current diversion rate.  That’s a ripe market for business opportunities in waste management.
  • In talking with composters, they continue to struggle with contamination of plastics.  Currently, there isn’t a good universal symbol that allows for easily identifying compostable products.  BPI’s symbol is the only third-party certification available.  However, it’s not federally regulated or required on compostable products and it’s not the easily identifiable symbol that composters are looking for to know what is compostable and what isn’t.  Frankly, I don’t think there is a symbol out there because you can’t use a color to indicate compostability.  Big brands won’t go for it and you can’t make some products/packaging/materials in colors.  I’ll talk more about this issue in an upcoming post. 
  • Polyethylene coated paper hot cups are accepted into the City of San Francisco’s composting program, but they aren’t ASTM D6400 or D6868 certified, so technically they aren’t “biodegradable” or “compostable.”  This further complicates the labeling dilemma in the previous bullet.
  • The FTC is cracking down more on misleading claims of biodegradability and they’ll continue to do so.  This goes for both product manufacturers and retailers.  Retailers need to do their homework as well, not just trust what manufacturers say.
  • There needs to be a better link between food waste generators (i.e. restaurants) and composters.  Restaurants struggle to find a way to get their organic waste to composters and composters don’t have the hauling logistics.  This often requires a third party hauler.  On a similar note, if you want to locate a compost facility near you, go to
  • The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) run by Steve Mojo is a great organization.  Steve works his ass off to make this world a better place.  Thanks Steve!

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