Frequently Asked Questions

Certified Products (CMA-I, CMA-G, CMA-A, CMA-W)

Certified products must meet ASTM D6400 or ASTM D6868 standards, plus they must pass a disintegration test that is done by composting process (there are three main ones we perform tests in, and they will have designations in their certifications accordingly). For instance, Walker has a covered in-vessel system, so their certification code is CMA-I. We have windrow facilities in NY and Illinois, and they are CMA-W certified.

Substrate Accepted Products (CMA-S)

There are some product categories that do not have an ASTM standard, per se, or that do not meet ASTM standards as there are no ASTM compliant items in the category. We accept these conditionally, and do not call them certified, and this is the CMA-S category.  This might include things like wood cutlery, clay coated food trays, wood stir sticks, paper straws (there are no ASTM compliant paper straws), or uncoated/untreated paper items.

Each of these designations represents our various acceptance lists. CMA speciates out its certification based upon the method for which qualifying items have been tested and certified. We organize our certification this way to provide additional transparency to the public, and to ensure certified products have been proven to work for the composting systems meant to process them. 

CMA-I: Certified for Covered In-Vessel Industrial Composting Systems

CMA-W: Certified for Windrow Industrial Composting Systems

CMA-A: Certified for Aerated Static Pile Industrial Composting Systems

CMA-H: CMA’s Historical list, comprising all the items that were approved for CMA-I at Cedar Grove Composting prior to CMA’s official establishment

CMA-S: Approved as a composting substrate in industrial composting. Exclusively for a narrow set of qualifying items that provide carbon without excessive additives or treatments. 

To certify a product through CMA’s program, the following is required:

  • Submission paperwork (profile, PFAS addendum, etc.)
  • The product’s constituency must be declared*
  • Total fluorine lab results confirming final product contains less than 100ppm
  • ASTM D6400 or D6868 passing results from a CMA Approved Laboratory, testing for:
    • FTIR analysis
    • % Ash
    • Heavy metals analysis
    • Phytotoxicity
    • Disintegration results
    • Biodegradation results
  • Passing field test result from a CMA conducted field test

*Note: Additional documentation may be required depending on the constituency and nature of the product.

We do not mandate that manufacturers that provide CMA certified or accepted products use our logo, but if they want to, yes- they must sign a separate logo licensing agreement. We offer various categories for logo use that will be managed and priced for that category (see attached logo use guide). As noted, this cost is borne by the product manufacturer, and they would contract directly with CMA for the logo use.

Yes, thank you for asking about this. We have been primarily focused on our program in the U.S., while we have filed for the certification mark in Canada. I asked our compliance director and on-staff attorney, Janet (and my awesome sister) to clarify the lasted on this, and her response is shown below, and we have also attached a copy of our filing.   

Application for the Canadian certification mark was filed in July 2019.  We have not received final registration, but the application allows us to use the logo and it is protected pending final registration.  Attached is the application and we anticipate receiving final registration in the next 6 months. -Janet

We understand that Canadian certifications and/or acceptance standards are different than ours, so we are not intending to be presumptive that it will be the same while we wanted to ensure we had our mark registered in all of North America, as we are working with some large product distribution chains where that will become more and more important in the coming year.

Variations have been shown to exist in the disintegration performance of different cutlery pieces, so each one would count as a separate SKU, as well as each color, as some pigments may affect the disintegration of the products, from our experience.   

We are a private LLC of compost facilities with a growing number of affiliates across North America that certify acceptance of compostables for our facilities as the receivers and processors of compostables and have combined to set up our own facility-based certification.

Yes, as long as the submission profile has their signature verifying their accountability for the information on the product, and they send a letter or e-mail verifying that you are submitting on their behalf.

EN 13432 is acceptable for mono-layer products (like cutlery, PLA), while coated items and/or multi-layer items would require that they show passing results for each layer under ASTM D6868 for that category of product.

A dye test is done to paperboard products with a compostable coating. It is CMA’s test method for confirming that a coating has broken down in the composting process. In essence, we use dye to test absorption- if the dye absorbs, the coating is no longer present and allows for this occurrence (AKA PASS). If the dye doesn’t absorb, and instead just “sits” there, then the coating has not fully composted (AKA FAIL). Coated paperboards are frequently used for things like hot cups.  We have a conditional acceptance category for coated paperboard as part of our plastic elimination strategy.  Paper cups are a high volume contaminant. Conditionally accepting compostable coated items avoids receiving a high volume of PET coated boards, which would be worse.

Generally, no. We request the smallest and the largest SKU’s in that series plus documentation that the constituency between all sizes in the group are exactly the same, other than size.