Compost Quality Alliance

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The Compost Quality Alliance (CQA)

The Compost Quality Alliance (CQA) is a voluntary program established by the Compost Council of Canada and the compost producers utilizing standardized testing methodologies and uniform operating protocols to improve customer confidence  in compost selection and utilization.

Both provincial/territorial and federal governments have established guidelines for the testing and sale of compost products. Criteria include maturity/stability, trace elements, pathogen as well as moisture content and depending on ingredients, N-P-K. Sampling standards as well as reporting requirements are also included in the regulatory framework under which compost facilities must operate.

The Compost Council of Canada and our members have been actively involved in the development as well as the ongoing reviews of these guidelines. During these reviews and as part of the ongoing nurturing of the advancements of organics recycling across Canada, it became apparent that while these guidelines meet the requirements from the perspective of government regulators, there was an important need to go above and beyond these guidelines to also reflect agronomic parameters that would help ensure that the right compost was used for the right purpose.

Hence the Compost Quality Alliance (CQA) was developed – to not only reflect government regulations but to go above and beyond to also test for the agronomic properties of compost and direct its usage appropriately.

CQA is a voluntary initiative, open to all compost producers across Canada. Upfront operational audits as well as testing procedures are required of all CQA-members along with an ongoing sampling regime and product attribute focus and market sale.
Look and shop for the CQA seal.

Feed the Soil … COMPOST!

Key Elements of the Program

  • Standardized product sampling
  • Uniform laboratory testing
  • Appropriate product attributes and usage guidelines

Benefits of the Program

To Consumers
  • ability to select the right compost for the right use
To the Compost Industry
  • supports regulatory compliance
  • enhances compost market development
  • builds industry credibility and reputation

How the CQA Program Works:

  • open to all compost producers
  • focused on product versus process
  • participants follow prescribed sampling frequency and reporting methods
  • annual licensing arrangement to use CQA logo on packaging and product promotion
  • CQA program managed by the Compost Council of Canada and marketed by both the CCC as well as CQA licensees

The Specifics:

  • compost facility signs up to be part of Compost Quality Alliance
  • frequency of product testing based on annual production volume (Table 1)
  • product samples submitted to CQA-accredited laboratory
  • product testing involves regulatory requirements as well as agronomic parameters
  • lab results reported back to compost producer and the Compost Council of Canada
  • product attributes to be communicated on an ongoing basis to product users in a prescribed manner (Table 2)
  • if the compost product sample fails to meet analytical requirements, producer has the right to rework and resubmit for further testing. Inability to achieve satisfactory analytical results would lead to non-compliance.
  • annual license timeframe: September 1st – August 31st
  • annual licensee fee: $700 for CCC members; $1,000 for non-members (each licensee is also responsible for the costs of lab testing)

About the CQA laboratory accreditation program:

Participating CQA-laboratories across Canada and the United States are involved
in the CAP (Compost Analysis Proficiency) program, a laboratory quality
assurance program to calibrate procedures and evaluate inter-lab method performance.
The Test Methods for Examination of Composting and Compost (TMECC) forms the basis of
the analytical test methods. CAP is administered by Dr. Robert Miller of Colorado State University.

For more information about CQA, please call the Council @ 1-877-571-GROW(4769) or email:

The Compost Council of Canada is the national non-profit, member-driven organization dedicated to advocating and advancing organics residuals recycling and compost use. The Council serves as the central resource and network for the compost and organics recycling industry in Canada and, through its members, contributes to the environmental sustainability of the communities in which they operate.