Minnesota Law Expanding Standards for Compostable Food Packaging

This May the Minnesota state legislature amended the Standards for Labeling Plastic Bags. The law which previously was limited to plastic bags will now cover food and beverage products and other food packaging. Products subject to the law include any product used to wrap, package, contain, store, prepare or consume a food or beverage.

Additionally, the amendments clarify requirements for compostable claims to reduce misleading product claims and confusion around which product may be labeled as compostable. Beginning in January 2025, products sold in Minnesota labeled as compostable must be

(1) made solely of wood with no additives or coatings;

(2) made solely of paper with no additives or coatings; or

(3) meet the applicable ASTM standard

  1. for plastics designed to be aerobically composted in municipal or industrial composting facilities (ASTM D6400); or
  2. for items that incorporate plastics and polymers as coatings or additives with paper and other substrates designed to be aerobically composted in municipal or industrial facilities (ASTM D6868).

Starting January 1, 2026, all products sold in the state which are labeled compostable must be certified by a nonprofit third party capable of performing the appropriate product analysis. Under the law, products may not be labeled biodegradable until an ASTM standard specification is adopted for measuring biodegradation. *

The law specifically specifies that manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers are strictly prohibited from selling or offering for sale a covered product with “biodegradable” or “compostable” claims unless the product is certified as meeting the requirements by a third party.  The third party must be a nonprofit that, as its primary focus of operation, promotes the production, use, and appropriate end of life for materials and products that are designed to fully biodegrade.

*It is unclear whether the individuals who drafted the legislation were aware of the existing ASTM standards on measuring biodegradation of plastics in landfills such as the standard for determining anaerobic biodegradation of plastic materials under high-solids anaerobic-digestion conditions (D5511-18).