Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The following topics are covered in the content below:
- What is the RCP Directory?
- What types of businesses are listed in the Directory?
- What kinds of products are listed in the Directory?
- Terms and Definitions
- What are Classification Schemes?
- How do I use the Directory?
- Why purchase recycled products?
- Are there guidelines for purchasing RCPs?
- What is SABRC (State Agency Buy Recycled Campaign)?
- What is SABRC Certification?
- What is the difference between "SABRC Compliant" and "certified" products?
- How do I "certify" my products?
- Must I certify my products?
- How can the Directory be used by State agencies to demonstrate compliance with SABRC?
- Does SABRC apply to local public agencies?
- Why is only California small business information included in the Directory?
- What are "Trash Bag" and "Certification List"?
- How do I add or correct my company's listing in the Directory?
- Information for vendors
- Links to related information
- Information sources for the Directory
- RCP case studies and other publications
Referred to as the "RCP Directory" on the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB)'s website, the Recycled-Content Products Directory is an online, searchable directory listing thousands of recycled products. The directory also lists manufacturers, distributors, and reprocessors who produce recycled products or process the materials used to make them. The Directory also includes organizations that provide ecological services, such as The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency; and The American Plastics Council (APC), a major trade association for the U.S. Plastics Industry working to ensure that plastics are recognized as a preferred material.
With the passage of Assembly Bill 4 in 1989, language was added to the California Public Contract Code requiring State and local government agencies to ensure that 50 percent of their purchases are recycled-content product (RCP) purchases. The Public Contract Code has since been revised and supplemented by several subsequent bills. California State law also requires RCP suppliers to certify the recycled content of all products offered or sold to the State. California State agencies are required to report their RCP purchases annually to document compliance with the RCP procurement mandates of the State Agency Buy Recycled Campaign (SABRC). In order to aid State agencies in meeting these mandates, the Directory provides certification information on products that suppliers have submitted to SABRC.
This list is not all-inclusive. We add companies and products as we become aware of them. If you would like to list your company's recycled-content material products, please submit the Listing Request Form.
RCP has classified companies into five business types based on their primary business activity:
Ecological Services--Organizations that provide information and resources for the promotion of environmental conservation. Includes other government agencies, materials exchanges, trade associations, recycled-content product and material marketing associations, consultants, and contractors.
Distributor--Companies that distribute (sell or trade) recycled-content products produced by others. Also includes companies that provide products for reuse.
Manufacturer--Companies that manufacture new products from recycled materials.
Remanufacturer/Refurbisher--Companies that take a deteriorated product and restore it to usable condition. For example, remanufacturers of toner cartridges or refurbishers of used office furniture.
Reprocessor--Companies that collect and/or process recovered/recycled materials into feedstock that is used to produce recycled-content products.
Products that are made with "recycled" materials are listed in the RCP directory. Recycled materials are items recovered or separated from the waste stream. Recycled materials include both preconsumer and postconsumer material.
These are just a few examples of recycled-content products listed:
Maintenance and construction products--Acoustic ceiling tiles, asphalt, concrete, building insulation, flooring, carpet, tiles, mats, dock bumpers, countertops, cabinetry, paints, pallets, plastic lumber for construction, benches, picnic tables, decks, fences, marine piers, playground surfacing, and rubber/resilient surfacing.
For service centers and institutions--Cleaning supplies, trash bags, food service products, and tissue products.
For offices--Binders, business cards, computer paper, printing and writing paper, pens, pencils, toner cartridges, envelopes, calendars, padded mailers, labels, mailing tubes, and packaging.
Resources such as the US EPA Terminology Reference System, State of California Statute and Federal Trade Commission have varying definitions of common recycling terms. Although they are similar, each is defined based on the purpose or program where they are used. For the RCP Directory, the following terms and definitions apply:
Construction Specification Institute (CSI) MasterFormat. Devised by the Construction Specifications Institute, the MasterFormat facilitates standard filing and retrieval schemes throughout the construction industry.
Preconsumer Materials also known as Postindustrial Waste or Secondary Material is basically manufacturing waste. Examples include paper trimmed from an oversized roll in the printing plant and a rough edge trimmed from a molded plastic product. These excess materials are recycled prior to the finished product reaching a consumer.
Postconsumer Content (PC)--the percentage of postconsumer material in a product.
Postconsumer Materials refer to recovered materials that have been used as a consumer item and are diverted from municipal solid waste for the purpose of collection, recycling, and disposition (aluminum beverage cans, plastic bottles, old newspapers, and yard trimmings). Excludes materials from industrial processes that have not reached the consumer, such as glass broken in the manufacturing process.
Product Categories are product types that have been grouped together according to the products use. For example, the Product Category Agriculture and Landscape includes the Product Types Benches, Compost, Containers--Compost Bins, Decking, Fencing, Flooring--Outdoor Surfacing, Furniture--Outdoor, Masonry & Brick, Mulch, and Planters. Product Types can be included in multiple Product Categories. Fifteen product categories are used in the RCP Directory.
Product Types is a general classification scheme created by CIWMB that encompasses the large spectrum of products made from recycled materials, including construction products. Product types are groupings of similar products. A product is included in only one product type. There are 125 product types in the RCP Directory.
Reclaimed material has been processed to recover a usable product, or regenerated by reprocessing it in a way that restores it to usable condition.
Remanufactured products are used products that have been refurbished by renovating and reassembling its components. Examples include toner cartridges or computers.
Recycled-Content materials have been recovered or otherwise diverted from the solid waste stream, either during the manufacturing process (pre-consumer), or after consumer use (postconsumer).
Recycled-content products are made from materials that would otherwise have been discarded. Items in this category are made totally or partially from material destined for disposal or recovered from industrial activities—like aluminum soda cans or newspaper. Recycled-content products also can be items that are rebuilt or remanufactured from used products such as toner cartridges or computers.
SABRC Certified products have had their recycled-content "certified" to SABRC but do not meet the SABRC minimum recycled-content requirements.
SABRC Compliant products have had their recycled-content "certified" to SABRC and meet the SABRC minimum recycled-content requirements.
SABRC Product Categories are 12 reportable product categories established by California Public Contract Code. State agencies must spend a specified minimum percentage of dollars on products that meet the minimum recycled-content requirements in each of these categories.
Total Recycled-Content (TC) equals the percentage of preconsumer recycled-content plus the percentage of postconsumer recycled-content.
There are many ways to classify products, the criteria being largely subjective. The RCP Directory uses two classification schemes to describe products: the Construction Specification Institute MasterFormat and CIWMB Product Types. The product types are also grouped into product categories according to the products use.
Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat. Devised by the Construction Specification Institute, the MasterFormat facilitates standard filing and retrieval schemes throughout the construction industry. MasterFormat is a master list of numbers and titles for organizing information about construction requirements, products, and activities into a standard sequence. MasterFormat facilitates standard filing and retrieval schemes throughout the construction industry. Only products related to construction are classified with the CSI MasterFormat in the RCP Directory. The assigned classification is not specific, but is at the Division level.
- Special Note about the CSI MasterFormat: The CSI is currently conducting an expansion and revision of the CSI MasterFormat and anticipates its release near the end of 2004. The revised edition will include a new six-digit MasterFormat numbering system. Once CSI completes this project, RCP staff will review how best to incorporate the new CSI MasterFormat with the RCP Directory.
CIWMB Product Types. This general classification encompasses the larger spectrum of products made from recycled materials, including construction products. Product Types are groupings of similar products. A product is included in only one Product Type. There are 125 Product Types in the RCP Directory. If you cannot find a product or a particular product type, please contact us for assistance.
CIWMB Product Categories. The CIWMB Product Types have been grouped into Product Categories according to the products use. For example, the product category Agriculture and Landscape includes the product types Benches, Compost, Containers--Compost Bins, Decking, Fencing, Flooring--Outdoor Surfacing, Furniture--Outdoor, Masonry & Brick, Mulch and Planters. Products types can be included in multiple product categories. Fifteen product categories are used in the RCP Directory.
There are several ways to search the RCP Directory: Product, CIWMB Product Types, Product Categories, Business/Company Name, the Construction Specification Institute MasterFormat and SABRC-Compliant Products.
The Product Search is structured to help you find products by searching with keywords. Keywords may include generic product names (refrigerator), brand names (General Electric), or a product type (Appliances). The trick is to enter just enough, but not too much, of a search term to get the desired results. The program is looking for the exact search term entered, regardless of where it is located in the product's generic name, brand name or product type. If you are looking for aggregate, entering "ag" as the search term will return all products that include the term "ag". This would include aggregate, as well as, bags, magnets, agriculture, etc. Similarly, entering "agg" will return all products that include the term "agg", like aggregate and bagging systems, but not agriculture. The Product Search option also allows you to narrow your results to only include a specific business type and/or a minimum recycled-content by selecting the appropriate drop down box. In addition to narrowing the search results, the results can be sorted by the Company Name, Product Name or the Product Type.
CIWMB Product Type search allows for the retrieval of similar products. For example, the product type of Landscape Supplies includes such products as rakes, seed blankets, and tree grates.
Product Categories are product types that have been grouped together according to the products use. This option will assist in searching for similar types of products. For example, if you looking for miscellaneous animal supplies, select the product category of Animal Husbandry. The results will be all products types that relate to animals: Animal & Livestock and Flooring--Animal Surfacing.
Construction Specification Institute (CSI) MasterFormat allows retrieval of products according to their CSI designation. If you are looking for doors, selecting 08000--DOORS and WINDOWS, will retrieve all records assigned the CSI designation of 08000 through 08999.
The SABRC-Compliant Product search will find only SABRC compliant products by searching keywords. Keywords may include generic product names ("carpet pad"), or brand names ("Embassy Carpet Cushion"). This search option will only retrieve products in compliance with SABRC mandates. However, if you select a company name from the search results page, that company's detail page may include products that are not in compliance with SABRC mandates. The company search option will find company names that provide SABRC-compliant products. The company may also have products listed that are not SABRC compliant. Therefore, be sure to verify specific product certifications. SABRC-compliant products are also searchable by the SABRC product category. Selecting a SABRC product category will retrieve SABRC-compliant products in that category.
Many government facilities and private organizations have procurement mandates or policies that require the purchase of recycled-content products. With government purchases alone totaling billions of dollars every year, these purchases boost markets for recycled materials. Buying recycled-content products also reduces waste going to landfills, reduces manufacturing waste and pollution, frequently reduces energy consumption, creates jobs and helps attain procurement goals. Most importantly, buying recycled-content products ensures that the materials collected in recycling programs will be used again in the manufacture of new products.
While there are no official guidelines for the general public regarding the purchase of recycled-content products, we encourage you to keep the following in mind when considering your purchases:
- Is the product readily available? Let your suppliers know that you are interested in purchasing products with recycled-content. They will look for manufacturers that are able to meet your specifications in order to keep your business.
- Is the product cost-competitive? There are many recycled-content products currently on the market that are cost-competitive. In other cases, it is not as simple as comparing up front costs. Some RCPs have lower maintenance and replacement costs than their virgin counterparts. To accurately compare these you must consider the life cycle costs of both and then make your decision accordingly.
- Review procurement specifications. Business or government purchasers should review their procurement specifications to ensure that outdated or unnecessary requirements (ones that have nothing to do with product performance) do not exclude RCPs from consideration. For instance, is it really necessary to require that your copier paper meet excessive brightness requirements that could prevent the purchase of recycled-content paper for your copying needs? Refreshing the language of your specifications should broaden your procurement opportunities to include products that meet your genuine needs.
In addition to the recovered material content of a product, there are other important criteria to consider when selecting products. These include:
- The ability of a product and its packaging to be reused or recycled through existing recycling collection programs.
- The volume and toxicity of waste and by-products a given product and its packaging generate in their manufacture, use, recycling and disposal.
- A product does not have to contain 100 percent recovered materials to be considered "recycled," but clearly the higher the percentage of recycled content, the greater the amount of waste that is diverted from disposal. Recycled-content products may contain some preconsumer waste, some postconsumer waste or both.
CIWMB implements California Public Contract Code sections 12200-12320 that require State agencies to purchase recycled products. State agencies are mandated to ensure that at least 50 percent of the dollars spent on products within 11 product categories, and 25 percent of the dollars spent on products in a twelfth category, are spent on recycled-content products. Product suppliers are required to certify the recycled-content--both secondary and postconsumer material --of all products offered or sold to the state. (State agencies are also required to obtain this information from all contractors.) Collectively, these mandates are referred to as the State Agency Buy Recycled Campaign (SABRC).
SABRC requires that every State department, board, commission, office, agency-level office, and cabinet-level office must require that all suppliers certify content of their products. For more information about certification please see the SABRC certifcation page.
Therefore, if you find a SABRC-compliant product, you can be assured it can be counted towards compliance with the SABRC mandates. If you find a SABRC-certified product you can be assured the product has been certified but does not meet the State of California's minimum recycled-content requirements. Agencies do not need to obtain the certification documentation for "SABRC compliant" and "certified" products listed in this directory.
Regardless of the recycled content, or even if the product has no recycled content, the supplier must indicate that on the certification form or through some other form of written certification. This certification, provided by the product supplier, begins the flow of information that eventually gets reported at the end of the year. Without the consistent use of the certification form, or some other institutionalized procedure to collect the recycled-content information, agencies and departments will continue to struggle to gather the procurement data needed for the SABRC annual procurement report.
The RCP Directory encourages product manufacturers and vendors to precertify their products so that they are readily purchasable and so that state agencies can readily identify compliant products.
"SABRC-compliant" products have been certified by a supplier/manufacturer and meet or exceed the minimum recycled-content requirements under the SABRC. "Certified" products have been certified by a supplier/manufacturer but do not meet the minimum recycled-content requirements under the SABRC.
Typically, the vendor provides the certification to the State agency purchasing the product. Manufacturers and suppliers may also precertify their products. The information may be furnished on the Recycled-Content Certification Form for Manufacturers (CIWMB #74M). Although the information is required, the use of this form is not. However, this form is designed to collect the necessary information in an efficient manner. The certification form is available on our SABRC website. Please send completed forms to Buy Recycled Section, MS-12, P.O. Box 4025, Sacramento, CA 95812.
Only if you would like to assist State agencies in complying with mandated procurement goals. All products within the 12 product categories purchased by State agencies must have the recycled-content certified, regardless of the amount. To be listed in the RCP Directory, the only requirement is that the product contains recycled-content material.
SABRC-compliant products listed in the directory can be counted towards compliance with the SABRC mandates. State agencies do not need to obtain the certification documentation for "SABRC compliant" and "certified" products listed in this directory. State agencies can simply reference the directory page where the information was obtained.
California Public Contract Code sections 12210 and 12213 require local public agencies to certify the amount of recycled material in all products, not discriminate against recycled products for any reason other than function, and purchase recycled products instead of non-recycled-content products.
To assist businesses contracting with the State of California, the directory provides information on businesses that are certified small or micro businesses and/or participate in the Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) program.
Certified small or micro businesses:
- Qualify for a five percent bid preference on applicable state contracts.
- Are eligible for benefits under the Prompt Payment Act, including higher interest penalties for late, undisputed invoice payments (except for construction firms, which are addressed under Public Contract Code, Section 10261.5).
- Are listed in the state's Internet Certified Firm Listing giving your firm more visibility and expanded business networking opportunities.
Public Contract Code (PCC) 10115 requires all state agencies to award at least 3 percent of their total annual contract dollars to suppliers who are DVBE certified. DVBE certified businesses are eligible for the state's 3 percent DVBE Participation Program, and DVBE certification status strengthens business networking opportunities via the state's Internet Certified Firm Inquiry Services' certified DVBE query and listing.
Although small business certification or DVBE participation is not mandatory in order to obtain State procurement awards, it affords those firms additional benefit when contracting with the State. For more information regarding certified small or micro businesses and/or the Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) program, please visit the DGS website.
The CIWMB monitors the provisions of the Public Resources Code (42290-42297) with respect to plastic trash bag mandates. Manufacturers and wholesalers selling trash bags in California must meet the mandates and be certified annually to the CIWMB before State of California agencies and departments can purchase from them.
Compliant and Noncompliant Companies
Plastic trash bag manufacturers that did not meet the minimum RPPCM content requirement and companies that did not submit certifications to the CIWMB are noncompliant. We may not have captured all manufacturers or wholesalers that are required by law to submit certifications to the CIWMB. Therefore, if a trash bag manufacturer or a wholesaler, (defined as any company that purchased trash bags from a manufacturer for resale) that sold regulated bags in California during the reporting period is not on the compliant list, then that company should be considered noncompliant for not submitting the required certification.
RCP field explanation:
- Trash Bag: Compliant or Noncompliant with PRC 42290-42297.
- Certification List: Reporting period of the Summary of Compliance with Plastic Trash Bag Certification Requirements. For example, if the Certification List states 2002, the reporting period for compliance or noncompliance is the year 2002.
The CIWMB seeks information about companies offering recycled-content products, especially in California. If you would like to list your company's recycled-content material products, please submit the Listing Request Form. If you would like to make changes to your listing, you can use the same form, or e-mail the changes.
The CIWMB reserves the right to limit product and/or service listings to those that are readily available to California consumers.
Visit the California Department of General Services web site to learn more about how California government acquires goods and services, including small business and disabled veteran business enterprise certification.
U.S. EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) is a federal-wide program that encourages and assists Executive agencies in the purchasing of environmentally preferable products and services.
U.S. EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG)--a key component of the government's "buy-recycled" program.
U.S. EPA's list of designated products--commonly known as Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) items--and accompanying specified amounts of postconsumer recovered materials that Federal agencies are required to purchase. www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/home.do?tabId=0
The Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative (RPPC) is a non-profit program dedicated to natural resource conservation. The goal of the co-op is to increase the use of recycled paper and products nationwide.
Alameda County Waste Management Authority provides a list of free resources available from ACWMA in California, including the Resourceful Purchasing Manual, a hands-on buyers manual designed to assist public agencies and others to purchase high quality recycled-content products.
The Pollution Prevention Information Center hosts an online collection of pollution prevention core references includes technical information, fact sheets and case studies for more than 30 industry sectors--from auto repair to water efficiency.
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is an individual membership technical society whose core purpose is to improve the process of creating and sustaining the built environment.
RecyclingMarkets.net provides access to North America's Most Comprehensive searchable Directory of more than 17,000 companies involved in the Recycling Process throughout the USA and Canada.
The Last Straw journal is a quarterly newsletter sharing news and developments from around the world about straw-bale construction and natural building.
The CIWMB makes every effort to maintain the information in the Directory in a timely manner by contacting the companies listed at least once a year to ensure the data is correct. The information about the companies and products is frequently the language supplied by the companies or language used on their web sites.
Read about businesses and State agencies that have found success using recycled-content products! See the Buy Recycled section of the CIWMB's online publications catalog, or check the specific case studies below.
- Kaiser Permanente Buy$ Big and $ave$ Big on Recycled Products
- Lawyers Turn Leaders in Recycled Paper Purchasing
- Recycling Cheerleader Leads Redondo Beach Hospital to Eco-Victory
- Winery Digs the Earth
- WorldWise: It's a Way of Life
- Have You Gotten Recharged Lately?
- State Agencies Give Re-Refined Oil the Green Light
The identification of individuals, companies, products and materials listed in the Directory does not constitute endorsement by the CIWMB and is provided for informational purposes only. The CIWMB is distributing this information in an effort to increase public awareness and knowledge about this important topic.