Compostable Claims

All claims of a package’s compostability must be based on credible scientific evidence that all materials will break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost in approximately the same time as the materials with which it is composted in an appropriate composting facility, or in a home compost pile or device. Appropriate composting facilities aren’t universally available, so before making any claims of compostability, it is important to consider where the packaging might end up.

Testing to back up compostability claims should be based on the finished package and components, not on the feedstock material used to produce the packaging.

Special Requirements in the City of Alameda for Single-Use Food Service Ware

Under the City of Alameda’s ban on polystyrene foam food service ware, food vendors using disposable food service ware are required to use biodegradable and compostable products. Compostable, disposable food service ware must meet ASTM standards for compostability and must be clearly labeled.

Learn more: Alameda County Styrofoam Food Container Ban

Labeling tips

  • DO qualify the claim if the item cannot be composted safely or in a timely manner in a home compost pile or device or if the claim might mislead reasonable consumers about the environmental benefit provided when the item is disposed of in a landfill.
  • DO include prominent qualifying text for items that can only be composted in institutional or municipal composting facilities to:
    • Disclose the item can only be composted in such a facility and not home composted.
    • Disclose the limited availability of institutional and municipal composting facilities, if they are not available to a substantial majority of consumers or communities where the item is sold. Examples of qualifying text that can be used for this purpose include: “Appropriate facilities may not exist in your area,” or a statement identifying the approximate percentage of communities or consumers for which such programs are available.


Example 1 - Plastic Clamshell Packaging

Claims made on a plastic clamshell package

Example/Claim Right or Wrong? Why?

“This package meets ASTM D6400 Standard, and can be composted where municipal or industrial composting facilities exist. Appropriate facilities may not exist in your area. Check with your local community as to availability.”


“This package meets ASTM D6400 Standard, and can be composted where municipal or industrial composting facilities exist. There are currently xx number of solid waste composting facilities across the country, serving xx% of the population.”


These claims are not deceptive, assuming that composting facilities are available as claimed and the manufacturer can substantiate that the clamshell can be converted safely to usable compost, in a timely manner, in solid waste composting facilities.



The clamshell might be compostable in industrial solid waste composting facilities, but cannot be composted in home compost piles. This claim is deceptive, since it does not have qualifying language that says the packaging cannot be composted in a home compost pile or device.