USCC Introduces Consumer Program
The U.S. Composting Council’s Consumer Compost Use Program (CUP) takes the USCC’s Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) program to the next level, and to the retail consumer, in an easy to understand format. The USCC created and has managed the STA program since 2000. The STA program is a compost testing, labeling and information disclosure program whereby compost producers must test their compost anywhere from quarterly to monthly, based on production tonnage. The compost test suite, arrived at through a consensus process that included the leading compost research scientists and industry experts from across the US, includes chemical, physical and biological compost tests. It also includes EPA testing for health and safety standards (pathogens and metals). The results, along with feedstock information and specific compost use directions, are required to be disseminated to all prospects and users upon request.
The STA Program has achieved a high level of success among professional users such as; Departments of Transportation (several specify STA compost ONLY for their landscape projects), landscape architects, landscapers, soil suppliers and others. The STA data, however, is just that; data available for interpretation by professional users, and it was not a program designed for the retail consumer.
The Consumer Use Program
The consumer Compost Use Program will require participating compost manufacturers to link STA analytical data to three compost use classifications: Lawns, Trees and Shrubs, and Flower & Vegetable Gardens. Each compost use classification is represented by easily interpreted icons reflecting the use(s) of the compost product. These icons are used on STA compost producers’ literature, websites and packaging, and are available on Compost Use cards in participating garden centers and nurseries.
USCC President, Frank Franciosi, said, “We now have an easy way for the homeowner to identify quality compost products that can be applied to their specific gardening needs.”
The Strive for 5% Campaign
The USCC has also launched the “Strive for 5%” campaign, designed to reinforce the elevation of soil organic matter content to 5% using STA compost to replenish and sustain soil microbes, save water, improve nutrient uptake, reduce runoff and restore many other soil functions linked to adequate levels of organic matter in the soil.