During 2011 AfOR will be undertaking an inter-laboratory trial involving the approved laboratories that provide testing services for composters registered on the Scheme.
The project's aims are to:
evaluate the performance (repeatability and reproducibility) of the approved laboratories in carrying out selected PAS 100 test parameters and to check whether there is a need to improve the laboratory procedures;
provide each laboratory with the data it has generated in tabulated format, in the context of repeatability and reproducibility statistics derived from the relevant datasets, such that each laboratory's anonymity is maintained;
write a report that includes a set of recommendations (based on the results of the tests, repeatability and reproducibility statistics and any relevant factors identified during the project) that enable the laboratories to maintain or improve their competence in performing these tests.
AfOR has planned to evaluate the performance of the approved laboratories in terms of the selected PAS 100 test parameters because some of them have not previously been compared using the same set of compost reference samples (e.g. physical contaminants, stones and sharps) whilst for others it has been several years since laboratory test performance has been evaluated (e.g. stability test). In addition, since clarification and publication of the plant response and weeds test separately from PAS 100 in September 2010 and its supply to the approved laboratories, AfOR also wishes to evaluate their performance in carrying out this test, using the same set of compost reference samples.
As result of the trial, AfOR may also appoint an independent expert to visit and provide advice to the laboratories where specific performance issues have been identified by the inter-laboratory exercise.
AfOR anticipates that the benefits of carrying out the planned exercise will establish the variation that can normally be expected when testing the same set of compost samples repeatedly in the same laboratory and also when testing them at each of the other approved laboratories. Such information should help identify any approved laboratory that obtains test results that are more variable than would normally be expected for the parameter, when testing compost. Any such finding would indicate a need for review and improvement of the laboratory's quality control procedures and checks on the efficacy of the change(s) made. It may be the case that all approved laboratories are carrying out the selected parameter tests such that test result variations are negligible (for the same set of compost samples); we hope this is the case but would like to obtain the supporting evidence or indentify where improvements should be made.
Last update: 19/12/2010
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