Connecticut Adds Compostable and Other Green Food Service Ware Items to its Statewide Food Service Ware Contract

The Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) began working with the State of Connecticut’s Department of Administrative Services/Procurement Office in late May 2012 to develop a bid solicitation using SBC’s BioSpecs as a framework. After reviewing usage reports, RPN found the State purchased millions of dollars worth of disposable food service ware, most of which was polystyrene foam or other types of plastic. Though the State wanted to add green items to its disposable food service ware contract, they also wanted to keep making conventional food service ware items available on its contract due to the higher price of compostable food service ware and the lack of food recycling systems at many state facilities.

RPN identified the State’s most commonly purchased items, and developed a list of environmentally preferable alternatives for each of those items, creating a green market basket list for the bid solicitation. Because Connecticut’s contract was set to expire, there was a need to simplify requirements to allow for a relatively quick bid evaluation process. RPN modified specifications for the items on the green market basket list based on SBC’s BioSpecs and other environmental specifications, requiring:

  • Disposable cutlery, plates, bowls, and cups must be certified as compostable by a third party such as the Biodegradable Products Institute.
  • Paper towels and napkins must be either EcoLogo- or Green Seal-certified.
  • Paper bags must be unbleached and contain a minimum of either 40% post-consumer recycled content or 100% total recycled content.
  • Paper plates and bowls may not contain fluorinated grease barriers.

The State also asked bids for durable/reusable food service ware such as stainless steel cutlery and ceramic plates. This solicitation for “green” and conventional food service ware was issued in late October 2012, and bids were evaluated for compliance with green criteria with help from RPN.

The final three-year contract for Food Service Supplies was awarded to two vendors on November 29, 2012 and is posted on the CT Department of Administrative Services’ Procurement Division website at, and on the RPN website. Two awards were made to vendors that provide certified compostable, recycled-content and/or reusable alternatives to disposable food service ware items. All environmentally preferable products are highlighted in green on the market basket list, which is included in the contract.

The State of Connecticut has highlighted its new contracts for Food Service Supplies in its BuyLines publication, which is sent to purchasers in state agencies, local governments, school districts and other public entities that are eligible to utilize this statewide food service supplies contract. This was a valuable, innovative strategy that can be emulated by other jurisdictions. One contract is with EBP Supply, Inc. (formerly Eastern Bag & Paper). Its catalog can be accessed at The other contract is with C&C Janitorial Supplies, whose environmentally preferable products can be found at

According to Ada Rivera, the State of Connecticut contract specialist who coordinated the procurement process for this contract, which is expected to be worth over $5 million, “This presented a real opportunity to integrate a ‘green’ component into a contract that will be widely used by the state and include a large volume of products. Agencies and municipalities rarely purchase just a few of these items. Plates, paper towel, and cutlery are typically purchased in large quantities, so to add a green function will have a broad effect.”