Responsible Purchasing Network

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

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

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


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 RPNĀ