Responsible Purchasing Network

Compostable Food Service Ware


When durable food service ware (e.g., plates, cups, utensils, etc.) is not feasible, disposable service ware is necessary. When this is the case, the most sustainable option is to use compostables. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that food waste is the single largest component of municipal solid waste that reaches landfills and incinerators. Switching to compostable, biobased food service ware presents a significant opportunity to advance sustainability in your facilities by enabling easier, more streamlined food waste composting. Using compostable food service ware makes it easy for a food service operation to divert its leftovers away from landfills into compost, because users don’t need to sort items into different bins.

RPN Resources

compostable food service ware guide

Green Purchasing Best Practices: Compostable Food Service Ware – Nov 2012

Although reusable food service ware - also known as "durables" - is the best way to reduce food-related waste, their use is not always feasible. When this is the case, the most sustainable option is to use compostables. The guide outlines the benefits of buying compostable food service ware, available products, relevant green certifications and standards, model bid specifications, bid evaluation tips, and how to maximize your green impact.

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RPN Webinar: Biobased Products in the U.S. - June 4, 2012

Hosted by the Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative, Responsible Purchasing Network, and USDA BioPreferred Program, this webinar explores biobased products procurement. Learn from experts how U.S. federal laws and regulations create demand for biobased products, including the very recent Presidential Memorandum. View existing purchasing specs for compostable food service ware to see what questions purchasers should ask to find the most environmentally preferable choices. And hear from a government procurer about the variety of biobased products they purchase and how they balance their environmental wants with performance needs.

This webinar covered:

  • How the USDA BioPreferred Program is driving federal and private markets For biobased products;

  • Purchasing specifications for compostable food service ware; and

  • King County’s use of biobased products in everyday operations.
This webinar featured:
  • Ron Buckhalt, USDA BioPreferred Program

  • Alicia Culver, RPN

  • Karen Hamilton, King County

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RPN Webinar: Compostable Food Service Ware - May 12, 2011

This comprehensive webinar is geared to both experienced "green" purchasers and those just getting started and covers important aspects of a successful food service ware program from an environmental purchasing perspective, and explains how to conduct product performance testing. It also provides detailed purchasing specifications, useful resources, and successful case studies. Compostable food service ware includes biobased bowls, cups, plates, clamshells, and cutlery.

This webinar covers:

  • An introduction to compostable biobased food service ware;

  • An overview of the importance of sustainable biomass feedstocks, toxic-free additives, and compostability;

  • A description of recently created purchasing specifications (BioSpecs) for this product category;

  • A summary of important certifications and other useful resources for purchasers;

  • How to prepare for and conduct product performance testing for your organizations' needs; and

  • Successful case studies from public and private sector organizations.
This webinar featured:
  • Brenda Platt, Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative

  • Alicia Culver, RPN

  • Susan Kinsella, Conservatree and RPNĀ 

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