Responsible Purchasing Network

Food Service Ware

grapes

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.

Resources

purchaser's guide to safer foodware

Center for Environmental Health - Avoiding Hidden Hazards: A Purchaser's Guide to Safer Foodware – Jan 2018

This report focuses on the use of fluorinated compounds in disposable food serviceware; offers recommendations and resources to help purchasers procure safer foodware products; and equips purchasers with tools to push manufacturers away from these harmful compounds and towards safer products. A key component of the report is the results of CEH's test on plates, bowls, clamshells, and multi-compartment food trays for their total fluorine content. In total, over 130 products representing 39 manufacturers/brands were tested.

Download the report


purchaser's guide to safer foodware

Center for Environmental Health - Foodware Database

CEH's database lists foodware products by brand, product, material, type, environmental attributes, price, lab results, and more.

Download the database (Excel)


purchaser's guide to safer foodware

Clean Production Action/Toxic-Free Future - Alternatives to PFAS-Coated Food Packaging – Jan 2018

This factsheet lists the types of food service ware products that typically do and do not contain PFAS and outlines available alternatives, including compostable options.

Download the factsheet


purchaser's guide to safer foodware

State of Washington - Washington State First-in-Nation to Ban on Nonstick “PFAS” Chemicals in Food Packaging – March 2018

On March 1, 2018, the Washington State Senate voted to ban the use of paper food packaging products containing the harmful class of nonstick chemicals called “PFASs.” The bill, ESHB 2658, was sponsored by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Redmond). The bill has already passed the House, and now goes to Governor Inslee for signature. If the Governor signs the bill, Washington will be the first state in the nation to ban PFASs in food packaging.

Download the press release by Toxic-Free Future


purchaser's guide to safer foodware

5 Gyres - Plastics Ban List 2.0 – March 2018

5 Gyres Institute, Algalita, Californians Against Waste, Clean Production Action, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Responsible Purchasing Network, Seattle Public Utilities, Story of Stuff, Surfrider Foundation and UPSTREAM joined together on the Plastics BAN (Better Alternatives Now) List series of reports to identify the world’s most dangerous plastics.

The Plastics BAN List 2.0 includes data from across the United States, focusing on plastics that present the most significant chemical hazards in manufacturing, those that are the most dangerous when absorbed by humans and which persist longest in the environment. Items reported as top offenders include food wrappers, bottle caps, beverage bottles, bags, straws, and lids, made primarily from polypropylene, polyethylene, and polystyrene plastics.

Download the report


purchaser's guide to safer foodware

Biodegradable Products Institute - Position on Fluorinated Chemicals – Nov 2017

Starting in 2019, BPI will require all products to be tested for total fluorine using widely available chromatographic tests. Additionally, they will adopt the European EN13432 compostability limit of 100 ppm as the upper threshold for acceptance. Shortly after, BPI will completely phase out fluorinated chemistry by requiring member companies to sign a statement that no fluorinated chemicals are intentionally added, in addition to limiting total fluorine to 100 ppm.

Download the statement


compostable food service ware guide

RPN - 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.

Download the report


 

Webinars

toxic chemicals in food service ware

RPN/CEH Webinar: Toxic Chemicals in Disposable Food Service Ware - November 16, 2017

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This webinar highlights new research confirming the presence of fluorinated, "non-stick" chemicals in a wide array of disposable plates, take-out containers, and food wraps. These toxic and persistent grease-resistant compounds can contaminate food, water, and compost. Presenters explain how to identify and procure food service ware products that are not only devoid of these chemicals of concern, but are also reusable, compostable, or easily recyclable.

This webinar covers:

  • Health and environmental risks associated with toxic chemicals in disposable food service ware and evidence they can migrate into food, water, and compost;

  • Why fluorinated chemicals are used to make some paper and molded fiber food service ware products resistant to grease;

  • A testing program to identify which food service ware products contain these chemicals of concern, including the results to date;

  • Which types of food service ware products are considered environmentally preferable; and

  • Policies, strategies, and resources to facilitate the purchase of safer food service ware products.
This webinar features:
  • Alicia Culver, Executive Director, Responsible Purchasing Network

  • Elizabeth Meer, Special Assistant for Pollution Prevention and Green Procurement, State of New York

  • Andrew Lindstrom, Research Scientist, US Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory

  • Judy Levin, Pollution Prevention Director, Center for Environmental Health

toxic chemicals in food service ware

RPN/CEH Webinar: Toxic Chemicals in Disposable Food Service Ware - October 17, 2017

Download Slides

This webinar highlights new research confirming the presence of fluorinated, "non-stick" chemicals in a wide array of disposable plates, take-out containers, and food wraps. These toxic and persistent grease-resistant compounds can contaminate food, water, and compost. Presenters explain how to identify and procure food service ware products that are not only devoid of these chemicals of concern, but are also reusable, compostable, or easily recyclable.

This webinar covers:

  • Health and environmental risks associated with toxic chemicals in disposable food service ware and evidence they can migrate into food, water, and compost;

  • Why fluorinated chemicals are used to make some paper and molded fiber food service ware products resistant to grease;

  • A testing program to identify which food service ware products contain these chemicals of concern, including the results to date;

  • Which types of food service ware products are considered environmentally preferable; and

  • Policies, strategies, and resources to facilitate the purchase of safer food service ware products.
This webinar features:
  • Alicia Culver, Executive Director, Responsible Purchasing Network

  • Elizabeth Meer, Special Assistant for Pollution Prevention and Green Procurement, State of New York

  • Mark Strynar, Physical Scientist, US Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory

  • Judy Levin, Pollution Prevention Director, Center for Environmental Health

compostable food service ware

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

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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 features:
  • Brenda Platt, Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative

  • Alicia Culver, RPN

  • Susan Kinsella, Conservatree and RPN