How Certifications Help to Avoid Greenwashing

Have you ever spotted a product on a grocery store shelf claiming to be “compostable,” “biodegradable,” or “eco-friendly,” and wondered how that could possibly be true? How can single-use disposable products traditionally made from plastic become compostable or biodegradable? Well, it’s not impossible. Bioplastics have provided us with a material that can be molded into single-use products that function like plastic but can be broken down to usable compost. The challenge is identifying which of those “eco-friendly” products are ACTUALLY compostable. When the green revolution began back in the 1980’s, companies realized that consumers were willing to spend more money with businesses that had sustainable practices or provided eco-friendly products. This led to the birth of greenwashing: conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.

Greenwashing began as businesses took advantage of consumers’ lack of knowledge around sustainable business practices and products. In order to protect consumers, regulations were put in place to ensure claims of sustainability were accurate claims of sustainability. The FTC Green Guides outline these rules for businesses, and the claims they are allowed to make surrounding sustainable products and practices. One of the main points of the Green Guides is that scientific testing is required to back up any claims of sustainability, and that generic phrases like “eco-friendly” should generally be avoided because they are often misleading. One of the best ways to provide a solid and legal claim that is also backed by strong science and a third party evaluation is to look for compostability certifications on compostable products.

Compostability certifications come from 3 main certifying bodies: TUV Austria, BPI (the Biodegradable Products Institute), and CMA (the Compost-Manufacturing Alliance). If you find logos from any of these 3 organizations on a sustainable product, you can rest assured knowing that any claims of sustainability, compostability, or biodegradability are backed by science and 100% true. There’s no greenwashing when there are certifications involved. This comes in handy when you’re selling products in multiple different states. The Green Guides are a federal requirement, but some states (like California for example) have tighter greenwashing regulations than just the Green Guides. Certifications ensure that you are compliant with greenwashing regulations no matter where the product is sold. You may have to be a bit more careful with the wording of your claims (for example, the word “biodegradable” is no longer allowed to be used in claims in California because it is too often used in a misleading way), but overall, your products, business, and customers will be covered when your products are certified.

Greenwashing is a fickle concept. With different regulations in different areas, and now with more and more states and cities also bringing in single-use plastics bans, there’s A LOT to worry about when you’re marketing a sustainable product. But certifications provide a simple solution. While acquiring them does require some time and monetary investment, they’ll serve you well in the long run in protecting your business and your customers. So remember: buy and sell certified!

UrthPact Products are the Certified Best

What makes UrthPact products stand out from the large crowd of other compostable, single-use products out there? Is it that we are 100% Made in the USA? Or that our products are made in a Safe Quality Food certified facility? What about our fully customizable and unique branding experience for our straws? While all of these things are what make us who we are, one trait stands out when it comes to our mission to save the world from plastic: all of our products are certified compostable, whether it’s TUV Industrial, TUV Home, or BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute). Many of our product lines even hold multiple certifications, just to prove that we really are what we say we are. We believe in providing our customers (and their customers in turn) with high quality products that are true to their word: to break down anywhere on Earth in under a year.

Where’s our proof? 

By certifying our compostable products, we’re backing up our claims with hard science, and the backing of a reputable third party certifying body. It’s not just us saying that our products are compostable; we have the data and facts to prove it. And depending on the product line, we’ve done this multiple times over. Take our straws for example. We started out by passing the test standard AS 5810 for home compost, which then in turn led to a TUV Home certification (for full breakdown, both chemical and physical, in under 1 year). But when our customers said that wasn’t enough, that no one even knew what home compost was yet, we went 2 steps further. We also obtained a TUV Industrial certification, which in turn allowed us to obtain a BPI certification as well. Even though BPI and TUV Industrial are essentially the same certification (the only real difference being that TUV is based in Austria and BPI is based in the USA), we took it upon ourselves to ensure we covered every base to protect our partners and their customers.

Having a certified compostable product also makes it more likely to comply with newer plastics bans that are rolling out across the country. Many newer bans are utilizing certification and test standards as gateways for which compostables are allowed under the ban (check out Charleston, SC for an example), and those that don’t have certifications written into their bans are actively being contested to include them. Having a certified product like UrthPact’s protects you and your business from any legal consequences, whether that be from plastics bans or greenwashing laws. Certifications ensure that there is no greenwashing here; all of our claims are 100% backed by scientific lab testing and field results. 

Now, certifications aren’t perfect. They are timely and costly to obtain, and when you certify a product for compostability or biodegradability in multiple environments, you have to obtain multiple certifications, increasing both the time to get them certified and the cost to do so. We get it, the system isn’t perfect. But we’ve already done all of that work for you. And, if there’s a certification we don’t have that you need, we’ll work to obtain that certification to ensure you can communicate honestly with your customers about our products. We know that honesty and integrity are key elements when it comes to compostable single-use products. There are a lot of skeptics in this industry. It’s up to us to prove them wrong.

To learn more about the certifications held by UrthPact products, click the links below:

Straws: TUV Home, TUV Industrial, BPI, CMA-I, and certified marine degradable material under TUV Marine
Cutlery: TUV Industrial and BPI
Coffee Pods (Rings): TUV Industrial, BPI, and TUV Home (coming soon!)
Degassing Valves: TUV Industrial, BPI (coming soon!), and TUV Home (coming soon!)
Juice Bottles: passed ASTM D6400, TUV Industrial (coming soon!)