Despite criticism of disposable cutlery, sometimes we can’t avoid it. Can you imagine organizing a party at the office and bringing your own silverware and china from home? Or are there thousands of people eating food? This is not feasible. Sometimes disposable cutlery is unavoidable, and this is the only time you should use it. In fact, the concern about contamination and safety is that all of us should consider cutlery before opting for disposables.
In this article, we will explore 7 materials used to produce disposable tableware and their advantages and disadvantages. Finally, we’ll tell you what’s your best bet…
Disposable Cutlery Materials: Pros and Cons
Speaking of disposables, paper sounds like a good choice since it’s mostly made from natural materials. But it’s better to find some recycled paper that is truly eco-friendly. In fact, recycled paper contains fewer chemicals, does not cause deforestation, and uses 40% less energy in the production process.
Paper cannot be used for any type of disposable cutlery like cutlery, but it can be a viable option for other types of items.
Another disadvantage of paper is that even recycled products can be bleached with chlorine or similar, a process that can disperse harmful fumes in the environment.
Plastic is the most common material when it comes to disposable tableware. Disposable cutlery is usually made of polypropylene or polystyrene. Compared with other types of disposable tableware, its advantages lie in its hardware characteristics, as well as its high availability in the market. Plastic is a difficult material to recycle, for single-use items and anything else. Some types of plastic are not recycled by local councils, such as polystyrene1. Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to break down, and when that happens, it leaves contaminants in soil and water.
Another disadvantage is the use of chemicals in the production process, so there is the potential for food contamination, especially when plastics are used with hot food and beverages.
3) PLA plastic
Also known as polylactic acid, this is an eco-friendly plastic made from various renewable resources, depending on the country of production, such as cornstarch, starch, sugar cane and potato chips. This is one of the most commonly used biodegradable plastics in the world. This plastic, also known as corn plastic because of its origin, can be composted in proper facilities without releasing any harmful fumes in the process. Part from eco-friendly pla plastic, it’s also great for hot food. The downside is that it is not composted in nature, in fact, it has to be sent to a specific plant to dispose of it. It can also seriously contaminate other recyclable items if confused wrong.
Bamboo disposable tableware is environmentally friendly due to its main material, bamboo grows fast, so it is not too bad to use this material. These items are also biogradable and compostable.
Even this has an innocent look to the harsh chemicals and dyes used to get the finished product. Another disadvantage of bamboo is its fragile nature, the fact that one may use more than one fork, for example, because it will break, so more waste needs to be taken into account.
Some wooden disposable tableware is so similar to bamboo that you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference.
Again, the advantages of wooden disposable tableware are related to its raw material, which is green and compostable. A variety of woods can be used to achieve the final product, and unlike bamboo, no harsh chemicals are required. Wood is also delightful to see and recall an eco-friendly idea. It’s also great to use with hot food.
However, due to deforestation, wood for single use appears to be a waste, so recycled wood is a better option. Wood is not very strong, which is why people need to be aware that debris may end up on their food. Also, some types of wood may release some oil.
6) Sugar cane (bagasse)
This is a by-product derived from the production of sugar cane products, basically sugar cane fiber. It’s a spectacular eco-friendly option because it doesn’t involve using trees. Bagasse products are fully compostable and decompose within 60-90 days. This product is a solid alternative to paper bowls and cups as it is also heat resistant. It’s also an option for takeaway restaurants because of their plates.
However, you won’t be able to find bagasse cutlery, so sugar cane isn’t yet the solution for all disposable cutlery. Also, it’s not ideal for food/drinks in high heat.
(7) Stainless steel coating and reusable
Stainless steel coated disposable cutlery is by far the most effective because it is high performance and extremely durable. So it won’t break, so it’s safer.
Typically, this disposable is not painted, but stainless steel, and in fact, no chemicals are used on the outside. Stainless steel is also a sustainable and recyclable material. But the real strength of this cutlery is its reusability. Stainless steel coated tableware products are believed to change everything from single-use designs to extended lifespans.
Reusability is always better than one use. Lastly, let’s say that it’s clear that sometimes we do need to use disposable cutlery, but the choice of which one to use is ours. Products that can be reused, like Vinzor Wood Products, can be reused up to 100 times, which is definitely a more environmentally friendly option.