What are compostables? Why should I use this site to find compostables? We’ve tried to anticipate and answer these and other great questions in our FAQ. However, if we missed something, please send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compostable products is still a relatively new category. In fact, if you search for 'compostable products' on Amazon.com, you are likely to find many products that LOOK compostable yet are not really compostable. Compostables.org attempts to curate products listed on Amazon.com and remove those products that are not compostable.
Yes, misleading. No, not illegal...except in a few states like California that regulate consumer claims. Sellers on Amazon.com can easily mislabel products as compostable. In some cases it is benign: napkins, paper towels, uncoated paper plates. In other cases, it is a bit more nefarious: "Compostable is 'hot' so why not stretch the truth a bit?"
The quick and easy answer is to ONLY buy products with 3rd party certification of compostability: Look for CURRENT certifications from organizations like BPI (US/Canada), BNQ (Canada), OK Compost/Vinçotte (Europe), DIN Certco (Europe), JPBA (Japan), ABPA (Australia). Compostables.org is continuously monitoring these organizations and labels products on our website when it can confirm certification status. Click here to read more about certified products.
When you see an UNcoated paper product (napkins, uncoated paper plate), you are probaby on safe ground. Although some paper products may not pass 3rd party certification for compostability, the danger is quite low. Most composters that accept food scraps will accept paper. When you see poly-coated anything, be careful. Look for test results that say they passed ASTM D6868. When you see a plastic item, be wary: many unscrupulous manufacturers make 'degradable' products that are 98% plastic and 2% "magic beans". They also try to green wash the products by citing ASTM tests (but the wrong ones). For more information, see our recent blog post entitled 'Know Your Green Claims'.
Amazon allows companies to represent features/benefits as they see fit. The only police products if you, the concerned citizen, take action. If you KNOW a product is not truly compostable, make a complaint to Amazon and say the product is mislabeled. You might even buy the product, then write a one-star review to complain that the description was not accurate.
Amazon pays a small commission to us on every product you buy via Compostables.org. We use those earnings to program the site, match product data, and promote the purchase of compostable products.