Welcome to our FAQ page, where you'll find answers to common questions about microplasticfree.org and our certification process. For detailed information on how to get your product certified, please visit the 'Get Certified' page. If you have any additional questions or need more specific information, our team is ready to assist you. Feel free to reach out through the 'Contact' page, and we'll be happy to provide further assistance and information.
Certification Process and Criteria
Explore the essentials of obtaining microplastic-free certification. This section covers everything from initial qualification criteria to the specific steps needed to submit your product for evaluation.
What does microplastic-free certification mean?
A 'Microplastic Free Certification' means that the product can completely break down in nature. Through a process called bioassimilation, microbes and natural forces decompose the product into harmless elements, ensuring it leaves no toxic chemicals or microplastic particles behind.
How does a product qualify for microplastic-free certification?
To qualify for Microplastic Free Certification, a product must be made entirely from materials found on our Approved Materials List. Additionally, it undergoes a thorough compositional analysis conducted by an independent third-party lab to confirm its adherence to our microplastic-free standards.
What types of products can be certified?
Virtually any product, regardless of its category or origin, is eligible for certification. This encompasses a wide range of items, including apparel, cutlery, seasonings, dog toys, cosmetics, and many more, reflecting our planet-wide commitment to reducing microplastic pollution.
How long does the certification process take?
The duration of the certification process varies based on the type of product. For non-consumables, it typically takes about two weeks, provided the third-party compositional testing confirms all materials are on our Microplastic Free Approved Materials List. If the product contains materials not on our list, they can be added after passing the OECD 310 testing standard, which may extend the process up to a year. For consumables, the testing is more extensive and can take up to six months.
What testing methods are used to certify products?
To certify products, we employ comprehensive compositional testing conducted by an independent third-party laboratory. This typically includes FTIR Spectroscopy Analysis, among other necessary tests, to accurately and confidently determine the product's composition.
What materials are typically considered microplastic-free?
Materials typically considered microplastic-free are those that successfully pass the OECD 310 test, assessing their ability to bioassimilate. This includes naturally derived materials that are not materially altered during manufacturing, like crushed rock, cotton, hemp, and wood, which do not require additional bioassimilation testing.
What are the steps to submit a product for certification?
To submit a product for certification, start by visiting the 'Get Certified' page on our website, which provides detailed instructions for the process. In brief, you'll need to fill out a submission form, pay the required fee, and send us a sample of the product you wish to certify.
Certification Management and Requirements
Understand the ongoing requirements and management of your microplastic-free certification. Here, you'll find details on fees, re-evaluation schedules, and the process for products that may not initially meet our standards.
Are there any fees associated with the certification?
Yes, there are fees associated with obtaining the Microplastic Free Certification. For non-consumables, the initial certification costs $4800, which includes the first year's licensing fee. Afterward, an annual licensing fee of $2400 applies. For consumables, the initial certification cost can vary, but the annual licensing fee remains at $2400. Products require retesting every four years or when any redesign or manufacturing changes occur. This retesting costs $3800 for non-consumables, with potential additional fees for consumables, determined on a case-by-case basis.
How often do certified products need to be re-evaluated?
Certified products are subject to re-evaluation every four years. Additionally, if a product undergoes any redesign or changes in its manufacturing processes, it will be retested to ensure continued compliance with our microplastic-free standards.
Can a product lose its microplastic-free certification?
Yes, a product can lose its Microplastic Free Certification. This occurs if a retest reveals that the product now contains materials not listed on the Microplastic Free Approved Materials List. Additionally, we conduct random testing of certified products in the market to verify that their material composition remains consistent with what was initially submitted and tested.
Can a product be re-tested after failing initial certification?
Yes, products that initially fail the Microplastic Free Certification test are eligible for re-testing. Following a failed test, our staff is available to assist, free of charge, in identifying the reasons for the failure and suggesting modifications to the product's formulation. This guidance is aimed at helping products meet the necessary standards for successful certification upon retesting.
What happens if a product fails the certification process?
If a product fails the certification process, we first try to minimize this likelihood by pre-vetting applicants using our in-house spectroscopy lab before they incur the costs of a detailed third-party analysis. In the event of a failure, our staff offers guidance, at no extra charge, on potential compositional changes that could help the product meet the Microplastic Free Certification standards. As a mission-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit, our goal is to assist businesses in transitioning away from products that produce microplastics.
How transparent is the certification process?
The certification process is designed to be highly transparent. Regardless of whether your product passes or fails, you will receive an unedited copy of the test results directly from the third-party lab. If your product does not pass the test, our staff will be available to help you interpret the results and guide you on how to make improvements to your product for potential retesting.
What are the criteria for choosing the independent labs?
The selection of independent laboratories for testing is based on their reputation for accuracy and high-quality compositional analysis. To evaluate a new laboratory, we conduct a verification process where they perform compositional analysis on a range of controlled substances with known compositions. If their analysis aligns with our known values and they have a proven track record of reliability, we consider partnering with them for our certification testing.
Consumer and Business Information
Geared towards consumers and businesses, this section provides information on how to verify certifications, utilize the microplastic-free logo, and the support available for small businesses and startups seeking certification.
How can consumers verify the certification of a product?
Consumers can verify the certification of a product through our public directory of Microplastic Free Certified products, available starting March 2024. Each certified product will feature a unique 4-digit code on its certification mark. This code can be entered into our database to confirm the product's certification status and details.
Is the microplastic-free logo available for use on products?
Yes, products that have been certified as Microplastic Free are permitted to display the Microplastic Free Certification mark. This is conditional on adhering to our marking guidelines, which are available upon request, and maintaining an active license for the use of the certification mark.
Can small businesses or startups get their products certified?
Absolutely, small businesses and startups are encouraged to get their products certified. We've streamlined our certification process to ensure it's efficient and requires minimal time and resources. This approach makes it feasible for companies of all sizes to achieve Microplastic Free certification for their products.
Are there any specific industries you focus on for certification?
We offer certification across all industries, without specific focus on any one sector. However, we often see a heightened interest in Microplastic Free Certification from industries producing single-use items like knives, forks, straws, take-out containers, cups, and lids, as well as from the apparel industry. Our certification is designed to be inclusive and applicable to a wide range of products.
How can I suggest a product for microplastic-free certification?
If you are the product manager, you can initiate the certification process directly on the 'Get Certified' page or contact us for any queries via the 'Contact' page. If you're not the product manager but would like to see a product certified, we encourage you to suggest this to the company selling the product and ask them to reach out to us directly.
How can I stay updated on new certifications and news?
To stay updated on the latest certifications and news from microplasticfree.org, look for the email signup box at the footer of our website. Subscribing with your email is the most effective way to receive regular updates and information about our ongoing efforts and achievements.
How can I get involved with microplasticfree.org?
There are several ways to get involved with microplasticfree.org. If you manufacture or sell products, consider getting them certified through our program. For others, a great way to engage is by joining our mailing list for updates and participating in local events we sponsor, such as beach cleanups or fundraisers. Your involvement, whether through certification or community activities, contributes significantly to our mission.
Environmental Impact and Health
Learn about the broader implications of choosing microplastic-free products. This section highlights the environmental benefits, health impacts, and the role of our certification in promoting sustainable practices.
What are the environmental benefits of choosing certified products?
Choosing products with the Microplastic Free Certification offers significant environmental benefits. These products are guaranteed to fully bioassimilate, breaking down into substances that serve as nutrients for microbes, rather than leaving behind harmful microplastics. This reduces the environmental and health risks associated with microplastic pollution, contributing to a healthier ecosystem and planet.
How does microplastic-free certification impact consumer health?
Microplastic Free Certification plays a crucial role in protecting consumer health by reducing exposure to microplastics, which are known as endocrine disruptors. These disruptors can interfere with the body's hormonal system, potentially leading to a variety of health issues like developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune disorders. Exposure can occur through daily activities, such as using plastic containers for heating food, wearing apparel made from materials that shed microplastics, or consuming foods contaminated by microplastics in the environment. By opting for Microplastic Free Certified products, consumers can significantly lower their risk of these health concerns, ensuring a safer, healthier lifestyle.
How does microplastic-free certification support sustainable practices?
Microplastic Free Certification encourages sustainable practices by empowering consumers to make informed choices. Our certification standards are more stringent than typical compostable certifications, enabling discerning consumers to identify genuinely environmentally-friendly products and avoid greenwashed alternatives. Furthermore, for products that fail our certification process, we provide free consultation to help understand the test results and guide manufacturers in redesigning their products to eliminate ingredients that contribute to microplastic pollution.
General Information and Resources
Find answers to general inquiries and gain access to a wealth of resources about microplastics. This section offers insights into global recognition, our role compared to other eco-certifications, and educational materials on microplastic pollution
How is microplastic-free.org different from other eco-certifications?
Microplasticfree.org stands out in the realm of eco-certifications as the only organization that certifies products for leaving no microplastics behind. In our testing, less than 2% of certified compostable products passed our stringent standards. Unlike many compostable certifications, which often require industrial composting facilities and may still result in microplastic production due to a lack of compositional analysis, our Microplastic Free Certification ensures products will bioassimilate in any natural environment without the need for special facilities. The criteria for bioassimilation are much more rigorous compared to standard composting definitions, making our certification uniquely stringent and eco-friendly.
What role do independent labs play in the certification process?
Independent labs play a crucial role in the Microplastic Free Certification process by performing the compositional analysis of products under consideration. As reputable third parties, these labs ensure that the test results are objective and accurate, providing an essential layer of credibility and reliability to our certification process.
Does microplasticfree.org certify products globally?
Yes, microplasticfree.org certifies products globally, offering our Microplastic Free Certification to a wide range of products regardless of their geographic origin. Our certification is universal, applying to all categories and industries around the planet.
Are there educational resources available about microplastics?
Yes, we offer a variety of educational resources about microplastics. You can find informative articles, detailed content on testing standards, and insights into industry trends on our 'Publications' page, which is dedicated to raising awareness and knowledge about microplastics and their impact.