Compost Seal of Testing Assurance (STA)

Compost analysis has become an integral part of our testing business.  It is an area that has consistently grown over the years mainly because of the U.S. Composting Council’s (USCC) Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) program and the fact that compost utilization is increasing as users discover the benefits of composting and using compost.  

 

                                                 

What is “STA”?
The Seal of Testing Assurance Program is a compost testing, labeling and information disclosure program designed to provide information to compost producers or users so that they can get the maximum benefit from the use of compost.  The program was created in 2000 and is the consensus of many of the leading compost research scientists in the United States.  A&L Great Lakes Laboratories, Inc. has been working with the USCC for many years, and we were one of two independent laboratories who worked with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the validation of the USCC testing methods.
We are a certifying laboratory for the Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) program.  We analyze composts from throughout the United States, and have had the opportunity to analyze compost samples from Mexico, Central America, Europe and some Caribbean islands. 

What Methods Are Used?
In order to keep quality consistently high, it is important to have standardized test methods that all certifying laboratories adhere to. The United States Composting Councils’ Test Methods for the Examination of Composting and Composts (TMECC) are the standard methods used for compost testing in both the United States and Canada and are jointly published by the USDA and the USCC.  They were selected to help both compost producer and purchaser to determine if the compost they are considering is suitable for the use that they are planning, and to help them compare various compost products using a testing program that can be performed by a group of independent, certified labs across the country and in Canada. TMECC provides protocols to sample, monitor, and analyze materials at all stages of the composting process.   

It is also important to know that although the TMECC methods are primarily what we follow for compost testing, we can also perform some analyses by ASTM methods as well.  ASTM methods are often requested by engineering firms, landscape architects etc.

CAP Program
The Compost Analysis Proficiency Testing program (CAP) was initiated to provide the Compost Laboratory Analysis Industry with an inter-laboratory QC program, to develop reference materials, and to measure the performance and reliability of TMECC analytical methods.  A&L Great Lakes Laboratories, Inc. is a Tier II CAP Program participant analyzing both Inorganic and Biological components 3x/year. 
http://compostingcouncil.org/compost-analysis-proficiency-program/

What Is The Process?
Compost manufacturers in the STA program will send our laboratory samples of their compost products based on the volume they produce annually.  The laboratory then analyzes the compost for a defined set of tests and produces an analytical report as well as a Compost Technical Data Sheet.  The Compost Technical Data Sheet includes directions for product use, a list of product ingredients and analytical test results.  It is really advantageous for a compost producer to be able to hand a prospective customer a Technical Data Sheet produced by an independent lab.  It really lends validity to the product.  Another benefit of the STA program is that the compost producer has the rights to use the STA logo in their marketing or promotional activities.  Some may choose to print the logo on a label, marketing materials or display it on their web site.

The STA program has a list of “approved laboratories” on its web site http://compostingcouncil.org/labs/


Did You Know? (For Compost Customers)

 

  • Whether or not you are an STA participant, if you are sending in compost samples to the lab, make sure you send enough sample to us.  With our C10 compost test packages we normally ask for 2-3 sealable gallon Ziploc bags of material.  Not having enough sample can also affect turnaround times.  Germinations take quite a bit of material and if we don’t have enough, we have to complete all the other analyses first before starting the germination test.

 

  • If you are analyzing for fecal coliform, the EPA holding time is 24 hours, so please ship the sample on blue ice packs to us in a cooler using overnight shipping for compliance.

 

  • A&L Great Lakes Laboratories has a cooler exchange program.  We will automatically ship you back the cooler to you so that you are ready for your next sampling event.

  • We have a dedicated Customer Service Representative who ensures your compost sample is processed correctly.  For any sample processing, handling or turnaround time questions, feel free to contact Julie Bruggner (260) 483-4759 jbruggner@algreatlakes.com

  •  For further questions about the STA program, pricing, test packages or requirements, account creation or compost testing in general, contact Greg Neyman (260) 483-4759 gregn@algreatlakes.com


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