Tag Archives: compostable

NYC Issues Compostable School Food Tray Solicitation

New York City has issued a request for bids for compostable plates used to serve over 150 million meals per year in New York City public school cafeterias. [i]

The resulting contract will be available for use by school districts that are members of the Urban School Food Alliance, including: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Orange County and Miami-Dade County school districts. Combined, these school districts serve ~2.6 million meals daily and procure more than $530 million in food and food supplies annually.[ii] The bid is for a five year contract.

Key aspects of the specification include[iii]:

  • 5 compartments able to hold 5 meal components
  • Center compartment able to hold a ½ pint milk carton or bottle.
  • Round or oval shapes for compartments are acceptable
  • Prefer no pre-consumer materials used and where possible made entirely from one primary material such as sugarcane, post- consumer paper, wheat, etc.
  • Must be food safe for all type and varieties of food and have FDA GRAS certification for food contact.
  • Must not have a wax or plastic coating (polypropylene)[iv]
  • Must be sturdy and durable, able to endure hot and cold food without seepage. Water proof and minor oil proof.
  • All components of the product must be 100% certified compostable.
  • Tested by a Biodegradable Products Institute certified lab and shown to be compliant with ASTM D6868.

The solicitation notes that the NYC Department of Education Food Program includes frozen foods, fresh produce, snack, grocery and non-food related cafeteria items, dairy, and baked goods. It also suggests that vendor familiarize themselves with food items served in the National School Food Lunch Program to better meet the needs of the districts.

Opportunity for Recyclable and Compostable Trays

While the solicitation specifies compostable trays, there is an opportunity to create trays that are both compostable and recyclable to provide greater choice regarding waste management options for each district. Cafeteria Culture an organization which has been instrumental in creating the shift toward zero waste school cafeterias in New York City has implemented the flip, tap, stack method of sorting which results in a clean, sorted stream of trays. Separating the trays in this way produces a stream of trays that can then be sent to a recycling or composting facility depending on the local infrastructure and the suitability of the design of the tray for recycling.

Please watch Cafeteria Culture’s video to see how it works:

How to Apply

Bids are due Nov. 19th at 4:00pm. A pre-bid conference will be held on Nov. 4th at 2:30pm.

The solicitation and requirements can be downloaded from the vendor portal here: https://vendorportal.nycenet.edu.


[i] Combined breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.

[ii] Urban School Food Alliance Celebrates One Year. July 15, 2013. Food Management. http://food-management.com/k-12-schools/urban-school-food-alliance-celebrates-one-year

[iii] Please download the solicitation for detailed specifications including dimension, thickness, etc.

[iv] Polypropylene is the only plastic coating explicitly specified in the specification included in the solicitation.

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