USCC introduces Consumer Use Program (CUP)

USCC Consumer Use Program labelsThe U.S. Composting Council’s Consumer Compost Use Program (CUP) takes the Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) program to the next level.

Designed for the retail consumer, CUP is 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. Participating compost producers must test their compost anywhere from quarterly to monthly.  Frequency is based on production tonnage.

The compost test suite developed through a consensus process that included the leading compost research scientists and industry experts from across the U.S.  Tests determine chemical, physical and biological compost values.

Included are EPA testing requirements for health and safety standards (pathogens and metals). The results are required to be disseminated to all prospects and users upon request.  Information must also include ingredients and specific compost use directions.

The STA Program has achieved a high level of success among professional users. Departments of Transportation, landscape architects, landscapers, soil suppliers and others now routinely specify STA compost.

The STA data, however, is just that — data available for interpretation by professional users.  It was not a program designed for the retail consumer.

The Consumer Use Program

The consumer Compost Use Program requires participating compost manufacturers to link STA analytical data to three compost use classifications:

  • Lawns
  • Trees and Shrubs
  • 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.  All 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.  It is designed to reinforce the elevation of soil organic matter (SOM) content to 5% using STA compost to —

  • Replenish and sustain soil microbes
  • Save water
  • Improve nutrient uptake
  • Reduce runoff