WIST is an institute within the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point

WIST  News
January 2014
In This Issue
Top reasons to use WIST compostability testing
FTC cracking down on biodegradability marketing claims
Sign up for Hands-on Papermaking
Research, Education, and Laboratory Services

pilot paper machine 




WIST provides laboratory services, research and education to create sustainability solutions for businesses and organizations. Technology and ideas developed by WIST and its partners will spur economic growth in Wisconsin and the region and help all of us preserve a healthy environment for future generations.

Follow-up Links


Annual Report October 2013 


Top five reasons to use WIST compostability testing



compostability thumbnail
Click the image to view a short video about WIST compostability testing.

1. Capture independent, third-party evidence to back marketing claims for your products (see article below about FTC "green guides")


2. Save time in product development: Our lab can perform multiple trials simultaneously


3. Get the testing services you need: WIST can customize a suite of testing services to meet your needs, including recyclability and repulpability testing


4. WIST has a solid track record of providing high-quality laboratory services to industry


5. Competitive pricing -- contact us to discuss project options

WIST tests bioplastics and coated papers to ASTM D6400 and D6868 standards for compostability. To learn more about how WIST laboratory services can help you, contact John Baldus, WIST director of laboratory services at or 715-346-3265. 
FTC cracking down on biodegradability claims


Third-party testing can help substantiate marketing claims


As this story in the Environmental Leader recently pointed out, the Federal Trade Commission is taking a close look at marketing claims about biodegradable plastics. The agency is working to make sure companies follow its revised "Green Guides" published in October 2012.


The FTC issued fines or citations to five companies after finding their marketing messages deceptive or false. In proposed consent orders the FTC prohibits the companies from making claims about biodegradability unless the claims are true and are supported by reliable, scientific evidence.


Although WIST compostability testing cannot by itself ensure a company complies with the Green Guides, it can provide scientific evidence to back marketing claims about compostability of materials. WIST tests materials to ASTM D6400 and D6868 standards. Its testing protocol was developed by waste and soils science faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, which also houses the testing lab.


The D6400 standard was developed for compostable bioplastics. The D6868 standard was developed for products that incorporate plastics or polymers as coatings or additives with paper. For example, a company may be developing a specialty paper such as a coated packaging material, to be marketed to businesses demanding sustainable products. WIST labs can test the material to back claims about its compostability.


The Green Guides state: "A marketer claiming that an item is compostable should have competent and reliable scientific evidence that all the materials in the item will break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (e.g., soil-conditioning material, mulch) in a safe and timely manner (i.e., 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."


The green guides provide advisories for businesses. For example, a product may technically be biodegradable, but if it is intended for disposal in a landfill then it should not be claimed as biodegradable because it will not biodegrade in a landfill. A product may be compostable but if it is not compostable in a home composting system and commercial composting facilities are not available in the area the product is marketed, the marketing claim of "compostable" may be determined deceptive by the FTC.


To learn more about WIST compostability testing contact John Baldus, WIST director of laboratory services, by email at or by phone at 715-346-3265, or contact Paul Fowler, WIST executive director, by email at or by phone at 715-346-3767.


Back to top

Sign up now for Hands-on Papermaking Class
Casey and student on machine
A WIST staff person, on left, supervises as a student in WIST's Hands-on Papermaking Course makes an adjustment on the pilot paper machine.
The next Hands-on Papermaking Class is set for April 3-4 at UW-Stevens Point. Instructed by faculty and staff of the Paper Science & Engineering Department and WIST, this two-day course provides a great overview of the paperpmaking process and is ideal for anyone who transferred in to the industry, is new to operations, does maintenance or supervises employees. Morning lectures are followed by afternoon sessions running the UW-Stevens Point pilot paper machine. Past course participants have praised the quality of instruction and the benefits of learning with a hands-on component. Learn more about the course by clicking here or register by calling Angie Hauer at 715-346-2331. Don't delay: cost is $710 if registered by March 14; $1,150 after March 14.