May 23, 2005 | General


BioCycle May 2005, Vol. 46, No. 5, p. 40
The new Compost Quality Alliance involves standardized product testing methodologies and use of a logo on product bags and sales literature.
Danielle Buklis

THE Compost Quality Alliance (CQA) is a voluntary program established by the Composting Council of Canada to support the advancement of compost market development. The program involves standardized product testing methodologies and uniform operating protocols, all designed to improve customer confidence in compost selection and utilization.
Included among the CQA’s key elements are: standardized product sampling; uniform laboratory testing; and appropriate product attributes and usage guidelines. Longer term, the vision of the CQA program is to also incorporate additional proactive management components to support the positive advancement of the composting industry.
“Compost quality goes beyond the regulatory testing requirements,” says Susan Antler, Executive Director of The Composting Council of Canada. “It’s important to know the agronomic attributes of the compost to properly target the appropriate end markets. The CQA program will not only support regulatory compliance for our composting facilities but will ensure that our end users are able to select the right compost for the right use.”
The CQA program has been developed over many years and through the input of composting facility operators across the country. It is designed to be simple and affordable. Significant support from the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Fund offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada enabled the CQA program to become a reality.
Over 20 composting facilities, representing well over 700,000 metric tons of annual compost production, have signed up as Founding Members of the Compost Quality Alliance program.
CQA is open to all compost producers and will be focused on product versus composting process. Program participants agree to follow prescribed sampling frequency and reporting methods. The compost testing is to be done in CQA-accredited laboratories. These labs are involved in the CAP (Compost Analysis Proficiency) program, administered by Dr. Robert Miller of Colorado State University. CAP is a laboratory quality assurance program which calibrates procedures and evaluates interlab method performance.
There is an annual licensing arrangement to use the CQA logo on product labeling and product promotion. The program will be managed by the Composting Council of Canada and marketed by both the CCC as well as the CQA licensees. The Year I program will focus on organizing the internal dynamics of facility participation as well as beginning the outreach/ marketing program directed at end-use associations and government organizations.
Inclusion of compost in product specifications, procurement practices as well as highlighting the overall and specific performance of compost for diverse applications will also be pursued by the Council and CQA members. “We very much value the work that our counterpart associations in other countries have undertaken to help us move forward with the CQA program and look forward to continuing to contribute to the overall development and support of compost markets around the world,” Antler says.
Danielle Buklis is with the Composting Council of Canada. For additional information, please visit or call The Council at 1-877-571-GROW(4769).

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