An official website of the United States government.

We've made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for Landscaping Products

EPA designated the following landscaping products under the Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) program to promote the use of materials recovered from municipal solid waste (MSW). Recycled-content recommendations for each item are listed below.

On this page:


Compost Made From Recovered Organic Materials

Mature compost is defined as a thermophilic converted product with high humus content that can be used as a soil amendment and can prevent or remediate pollutants in soil, air and storm water run-off. Compost's various uses improve soil quality and productivity as well as prevent and control erosion. Mixed organic materials, such as animal manure, yard trimmings, food waste, and biosolids, must go through a controlled heat process before they can be used as high quality, biologically stable and mature compost.

The recovered organic materials from which compost is made include, but are not limited to, yard waste, food waste, manure and biosolids. Additional organic materials are listed on pages four through 8 of the appendix to the CPG V Technical Background Document. EPA recognizes that these organic materials are the most commonly used in commercially available compost but other organic materials could also be used. Yard waste utilizes organic waste from lawns and gardens, such as grass, leaves and twigs, to create an effective soil amendment or fertilizer. Food waste is similarly comprised of items such as fruit and vegetable trimmings and kitchen preparation residuals. Biosolids are nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage sludge. When treated and processed, these residuals can be recycled and applied as fertilizer or compost to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth. Manure is an agricultural waste not generally captured in collection programs, but nonetheless, is generated in high volumes and can offer multiple beneficial uses including nutrients for crop production and organic matter to improve soil properties.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Ranges:

EPA does not recommend any content ranges for made from recovered organic materials since it is generally made exclusively from recovered organic materials.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) V recommends that procuring agencies purchase or use compost made from recovered organic materials in such applications as landscaping, seeding of grasses or other plants on roadsides and embankments, nutritious mulch under trees and shrubs, and in erosion control and soil reclamation.

EPA further recommends that those procuring agencies that have an adequate volume of organic materials, as well as sufficient space for composting, should implement a composting system to produce compost from these materials to meet their landscaping and other needs.

Top of Page

Product Specifications:

EPA issued regulations in 1993 that limit the pollutants and pathogens in biosolids, entitled ‘‘The Standards for the Use or Disposal of Sewage Sludge,’’ (title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations - CFR - part 503). If biosolids are included as part of the compost or fertilizer, part 503 land application requirements in effect ensure that any biosolids that are land applied, through compost or fertilizers, contain pathogens and metals that are below specified levels to protect the health of humans, animals, and plants.

EPA recommends procuring agencies refer to the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) Exit which has developed guidelines and lists of materials allowed and prohibited for use in the production, processing, and handling of organically grown products. EPA also recommends procuring agencies refer to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, which prohibit the use of biosolids in organic production. Procuring agencies should also check for individual state and other applicable federal and local government regulations on the use of organic fertilizer and compost.

EPA recommends that procuring agencies ensure that there is no language in their specifications related to landscaping, soil amendments, erosion control, or soil reclamation that would preclude or discourage the use of compost. If, for instance, specifications address the use of straw or hay in roadside revegetation projects, procuring agencies should assess whether compost could substitute for straw or hay or be used in combination with them.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's "Standard Specifications for Construction of Roads and Bridges on Federal Highway Projects 1996" specifies compost as one of the materials suitable for use in roadside revegetation projects associated with road construction. These standards do not preclude the use of compost made from yard trimmings, leaves, grass clippings, and/or food waste.

In addition, EPA recommends that procuring agencies obtain the following specification and adapt it or another suitable specification for their use in purchasing compost products

The state of Maine developed quality standards for compost products that are used by its agencies and/or purchased with state funds. Quality standards were set for six types of compost products ranging from topsoil (three classes) to wetland substrate to mulch (two classes). For each of these types of compost product, standards for maturity, odor, texture, nutrients, pH, salt content, organic content, pathogen reduction, heavy metals, foreign matter, moisture content, and density were established. For additional information see the State of Maine’s website.Exit

The U.S. Composting Council (USCC) Exit is helping to define and develop industry wide standards for composts made from recovered organic materials. The Composting Council publishes these standards in "Test Methods for Examination of Composting and Compost (TMECC)." TMECC is a laboratory manual that provides detailed protocols for the composting industry to sample, monitor, and analyze materials at all stages of the composting process to help maintain process control, verify process attributes, assure worker safety, and avoid degradation to the environment in and around the composting facility.

The USCC also offers the Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) program, a compost testing and information disclosure program that uses the TMECC. Participating compost producers regularly sample and test their products using STA program approved labs. The USCC then certifies the participants’ compost as ‘‘STA certified compost’’ and allows the use of the STA logo on product packaging and literature. Procuring agencies can consider specifying STA certified compost, especially for applications that require consistent quality.

Top of Page

Related Resources:

Top of Page


Fertilizer Made From Recovered Organic Materials

Fertilizer, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a single or blended substance containing one or more recognized plant nutrient(s) used primarily for its plant nutrient content claimed to have value in promoting plant growth. While compost contains many of the same characteristics as fertilizer, such as nutrients, it is not considered a complete fertilizer unless amended.

The recovered organic materials from which fertilizer is made include, but is not limited to, yard waste, food waste, manure and biosolids.  Additional organic materials are listed on pages 4-8 of the appendix to the CPG V Technical Background Document. EPA recognizes that these organic materials are the most commonly used in commercially available compost but other organic materials could also be used. Yard waste utilizes organic waste from lawns and gardens, such as grass, leaves, and twigs, to create an effective soil amendment or fertilizer. Food waste is similarly comprised of items such as fruit and vegetable trimmings and kitchen preparation residuals. Biosolids are nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage sludge. When treated and processed, these residuals can be recycled and applied as fertilizer or compost to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth. Manure is an agricultural waste not generally captured in collection programs, but nonetheless, is generated in high volumes and can offer multiple beneficial uses including nutrients for crop production and organic matter to improve soil properties.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Ranges:

EPA does not recommend any content ranges for fertilizer made from recovered organic materials since it is generally made exclusively from recovered organic materials.

Fertilizers made from recovered organic materials can contain up to 100 percent recovered materials and can have a mixture of various plant, animal, and mineral content depending on the desired use and the manufacturer. EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) V recommends that procuring agencies purchase or use fertilizers made from recovered organic materials in such applications as agriculture and crop production, landscaping, horticulture, parks and other recreational facilities, on school campuses, and for golf course and turf maintenance.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) V recommends that procuring agencies purchase or use fertilizers made from recovered organic materials in such applications as agriculture and crop production, landscaping, horticulture, parks and other recreational facilities, on school campuses, and for golf course and turf maintenance.

Fertilizer is often characterized by its Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium value or NPK value. The NPK value represents the percentage of fertilizer that each element composes. For example, an NPK of 3-2-1 indicates that a fertilizer is composed of 3 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorous, and 1 percent potassium. These are the elements that most plants require for growth. For more information on the NPK values for fertilizers please refer to the appendix to the CPG V Technical Background Document.

Top of Page

Product Specifications:

EPA issued regulations in 1993 that limit the pollutants and pathogens in biosolids, entitled ‘‘The Standards for the Use or Disposal of Sewage Sludge’’. If biosolids are included as part of the compost or fertilizer, land application requirements ensure that any biosolids that are land applied, through compost or fertilizers, contain pathogens and metals that are below specified levels to protect the health of humans, animals and plants.

EPA recommends procuring agencies refer to the OMRI Exit which has developed guidelines and lists of materials allowed and prohibited for use in the production, processing, and handling of organically grown products. EPA also recommends procuring agencies refer to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s NOP regulations, which prohibit the use of biosolids in organic production. Procuring agencies should also check for individual state and other applicable federal and local government regulations on the use of organic fertilizer and compost.

EPA recommends that procuring agencies ensure that there is no language in their specifications relating to such applications as agriculture and crop production, landscaping, horticulture, parks and other recreational facilities, on school campuses, and for golf course and turf maintenance that would preclude or discourage the use of fertilizers made from recovered organic materials.

In proposing to designate fertilizers made from recovered organic materials in the CPG, EPA is not placing any limitations on the organic materials, but rather is relying on federal, state, and local regulations and guidance, as well as existing industry standards.

Top of Page

Additional Links:

Top of Page


Garden and Soaker Hoses

A garden hose conducts water through its tubing to a specific location using a nozzle, while a soaker hose is perforated tubing that gently irrigates gardens or planted areas. Recovered-content garden and soaker hoses help create new uses for old tires and recycled plastics. EPA's designation specifically covers garden and soaker hoses containing recovered plastic or rubber.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Ranges:

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for garden and soaker hoses as shown in the table below.

EPA's Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Garden and Soaker Hoses ¹
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%)
Garden Hose Rubber and/or Plastic 60-65
Soaker Hose Rubber and/or Plastic 60-70

1EPA's recommendation does not preclude a procuring agency from purchasing garden and soaker hoses manufactured from another material. It simply requires that a procuring agency, when purchasing garden and soaker hoses made from plastic or rubber, purchase these items made with recovered materials when these items meet applicable specifications and performance requirements.

Top of Page

Product Specifications:

EPA recommends that procuring agencies use the following specifications when procuring garden and soaker hoses:

  • ASTM D3901 Consumer Specification for Garden Hose. This specification addresses physical and performance characteristics (i.e., pressure, tensile, and ripping strength tests) and states that the material components are to be agreed upon by the purchaser and seller.
  • Green Seal GC-2: Watering Hoses. This standard calls for use of 50 percent postconsumer rubber material in garden hoses and 65 percent postconsumer rubber material in soaker hoses. EPA recommends that, when purchasing garden hoses, procuring agencies reference the technical requirements of this specification but set a higher content standard.

Top of Page

Additional Links:

For more information on EPA’s product research on garden and soaker hoses, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

Top of Page


Hydraulic Mulch

Hydraulic mulch is comprised of small pieces of cellulose fibers, which can be made completely from wood waste or recovered paper. It stabilizes soil, prevents wind and water erosion, and provides protection and warmth for seeds, helping them grow. Through hydroseeding, a mixture of water, seeds, and hydraulic mulch is sprayed over bare soil to quickly promote plant growth.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Ranges:

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing hydraulic mulch as shown in the table below.

EPA's Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Hydraulic Mulch Products ¹
Product Material Postconsumer Content Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Paper-Based Hydraulic Mulch Paper 100 100
Wood-Based Hydraulic Mulch Wood and Paper -- 100

1The recommended recovered materials content levels are based on the dry weight of the fiber, exclusive of any dyes, wetting agents, seeds, fertilizer, or other non-cellulose additives.

Top of Page

Additional Links:

For more information on EPA’s product research on hydraulic mulch, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

Top of Page


Lawn and Garden Edging

Lawn and garden edging creates a barrier between lawns and landscaped areas or garden beds. The underground portion helps keep grass and weeds out of flower and vegetable beds. Lawn and garden edging can be manufactured with scrap rubber, milk jugs, and other plastic containers. EPA's designation specifically covers lawn and garden edging containing recovered plastic or rubber.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Ranges:

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing lawn and garden edging as shown in the table below.

EPA's Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Lawn and Garden Edging Containing Recovered Plastic or Rubber ¹
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Lawn and Garden Edging Plastic and/or Rubber 30-100 30-100

1EPA's recommendation does not preclude a procuring agency from purchasing lawn and garden edging manufactured from another material such as wood. It simply requires that a procuring agency, when purchasing lawn and garden edging made from plastic and/or rubber, purchase these items made with recovered materials when these items meet applicable specifications and performance requirements.

Top of Page

Related Resource:

For more information on EPA’s product research on lawn and garden edging, please see the Technical Background Document for CPG III/RMAN III.

Top of Page


Plastic Lumber Landscaping Timbers and Posts

Landscaping timbers and posts are used as raised beds, retaining walls, and terracing. Plastic lumber landscaping timbers and posts are used in urban plazas, zoos, and outside office buildings-in fact, the National Park Service alone has more than a dozen projects planned with these recycled-content products. Timbers and posts manufactured with plastic or composite (plastic mixed with wood or fiberglass) lumber give new life to recovered wood and plastic materials such as milk jugs and plastic bags.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Ranges:

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing plastic lumber landscaping timbers and posts as shown in the table below.

EPA's Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Plastic Lumber Landscaping Timbers and Posts

Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Plastic Lumber Landscaping Timbers and Posts HDPE 25-100 75-100
Mixed plastics/Sawdust 50 100
HDPE/Fiberglass 75 95
Other mixed resins 50-100 95-100

EPA's recommendations do not preclude a procuring agency from purchasing wooden landscaping timbers and posts. They simply require that procuring agencies, when purchasing plastic landscaping timbers and posts, purchase these items made with recovered materials when the items meet applicable specifications and performance requirements.

Top of Page

Product Specifications:

Plastic lumber cannot be tested using the same tests already developed for virgin plastic. Tests on virgin plastic are performed on small cross-sections of the material. This is an accurate indicator of how the virgin plastic will perform as it is a homogeneous material. Plastic lumber, however, is not homogeneous in its construction, so tests on a cross-section of this material do not accurately predict how a length of lumber will perform in certain circumstances. For this reason, new test methods have been developed for lengths of lumber. These test methods apply to all types of plastic lumber or equivalent materials that are not homogeneous at the cross-section. For all the test methods listed for plastic lumber, see the ASTM website. Exit

Specific ASTM test methods are as follows: The following links exit the site Exit

  • D2344/D2344M Standard Test Method for Short-Beam Strength of Polymer Matrix Composite Materials and Their Laminates.
  • D6108-13 Standard Test Method for Compressive Properties of Plastic Lumber.
  • D6109-13 Standard Test Method for Flexural Properties of Unreinforced and Reinforced Plastic Lumber.
  • D6111-33 Standard Test Method for Bulk Density and Specific Gravity of Plastic Lumber and Shapes by Displacement. 
  • D6112-13 Standard Test Method for Compressive and Flexural Creep and Creep Rupture of Plastic Lumber and Shapes. 
  • D6117-13 Standard Test Method for Mechanical Fasteners in Plastic Lumber and Shapes.
  • D7031-11 Standard Guide for Evaluating Mechanical and Physical Properties of Wood-Plastic Composite Products.

Top of Page

Additional Links:

For more information on EPA's product research onplastic lumber landscaping timbers and posts, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

Top of Page