A Natural Evolution
In October 2009, ASTM International’s board of directors authorized staff to develop certification programs that would provide third-party verification of compliance with ASTM standards. Standards developing organizations around the world offer such services, and this was a natural evolution for ASTM. As with so many areas of ASTM’s operations, the catalyst for this evolution was our membership, which had for some time been requesting certification services.
In the months that followed the board action, ASTM International staff worked to develop capabilities for certifying both products and personnel, as well as offering personnel certificates — fielding inquiries from the industry sectors it serves and developing the infrastructure to manage multiple programs.
In this issue, we introduce the first certification program for products and two personnel certificate programs.
ASTM International’s first program for products provides certification services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biopreferred Program. In February, the USDA launched its new biobased product label, which verifies that a product is made entirely or in significant part of biological products, renewable agricultural materials or forestry materials. ASTM is managing the testing of candidate products using a standard developed by Committee D20 on Plastics, which determines biobased content using radiocarbon analysis. Thanks to this program, consumers will be able to choose products certified as biobased, fulfilling USDA’s long-term goals of supporting a biobased market and industrial base, enhancing national energy security by replacing fossil energy-based products with biobased ones, and promoting agriculture-related business.
For personnel certificates, ASTM International is basing its program on a standard developed by ASTM Committee E36 on Accreditation and Certification that provides guidance for developing and administering quality certificate programs. At press time, two ASTM committees, D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants and E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action, will shortly launch personnel certificate programs.
More programs are on the way. ASTM is well into the next stage of its evolution as an organization that puts industry’s needs at the forefront of its planning.