Do you think that saying eco-friendly disposable tableware is a contradiction in terms? How can something be disposable and green, at the same time?
Well, despite the criticism towards disposable tableware, there are times when we cannot avoid it. Could you imagine organizing a party in the office and bringing your own silverware and porcelain from home? Or an event with thousands of people eating food? It’s not feasible.
Sometimes disposable tableware is unavoidable and this is the only time you should use it. In fact, there are concerns over pollution and safety, that all of us should consider before choosing disposable tableware.
In this article, we are going to explore 7 materials used for producing disposable tableware and its pros and cons. At the end, we will tell what is the best choice…
Disposable tableware materials: Pros & Cons
Paper sounds like a good choice when it comes to disposable, as it is made of natural materials mostly. But it is preferable to look for items made of recycled paper to be eco-friendly for real. In fact, recycled paper contains less chemicals, doesn’t contribute to deforestation and use 40% less energy in the production process.
Paper cannot be used for any type of disposable tableware, such as cutlery, but it can be a viable option for other types of item.
Another disadvantage of paper is that even recycled products may be bleached with chlorine or similar, this process disperses harmful fumes in the environment.
Plastic is the most common material when it comes to disposable flatware. Disposable tableware is normally made with polypropylene or polystyrene.
The advantages relate to its hardware properties, compared to the other types of disposable tableware and to its high availability in the market.
Plastic is a very difficult material to recycle, this is true for disposables, but also for any other item. There are certain types of plastic that won’t be recycled by local councils, such as polystyrene 1. Plastic can take up to 1000 year to decompose and when this happens, it leaves pollutant in the soil and in the water.
The other disadvantage is the use of chemicals in the production process, therefore a food contamination is likely, especially if plastic items are utilised with hot food and beverage.
3) PLA plastic
Also called polylactic acid, it’s a type of eco-friendly plastic made from various renewable sources, depending on the country of production, such as corn starch, starch, sugarcane and chips. This is one of the most used biodegradable plastic in the world.
This plastic, also known as, corn plastic since its derivation, can be composted in apposite facilities and doesn’t release any harmful fumes in the process. A part from being eco-friendly PLA plastic is great also for hot food.
The disadvantages are that it doesn’t compost in the nature, in fact, it must be sent to a specific plant to deal with it. It can also badly contaminate the other recyclable items if mixed up by mistake.
Bamboo disposable tableware is eco-friendly because of its main material, bamboo grows very fast, so it is actually not too bad to utilise such materials for our convenience. These items are also biogradable and compostable.
Even if this has an innocent look, to get the finished product harsh chemicals and dyes are used. Another cons of bamboo is its fragile nature, in fact, people may use more than one single fork, for example, because it breaks, so increased waste need to be taken into account.
Some wood disposable cutlery is so similar to bamboo that you can hardly notice the difference.
Again the advantages of wood disposable tableware relate to its raw material, which is green and compostable. A variety of wood can be used for reaching the final product, and unlike bamboo, no harsh chemicals need to be used. Wood is also pleasant to see and recalls an idea of environmentally friendly. It is also good to be used with hot food.
However, wood used for disposable may seem a waste because of the deforestation, so recycled wood is a better option to choose. Wood is not very strong, that’s why people need to be aware that splinters may end up on their food. Plus, certain types of wood may release some oils.
6) Sugarcane (Bagasse)
This is a by-product deriving from the production of sugar cane products. It is basically sugar cane fibers.
This is a spectacular environmentally- friendly option as it doesn’t involve the use of trees. Bagasse products are completely compostable and decompose in 60 to 90 days. This product is a solid alternative to paper dishes and cups, as it is resistant to high temperature as well. It is the choice of takeaway restaurant too, for their trays.
However, you will not be able to find bagasse cutlery, so sugarcane is not yet a solution for all the disposable tableware. In addition to that, it isn’t ideal for food/beverage at high temperature.
7) Stainless steel coated & reusable
Stainless steel coated disposable flatware is by far the most efficient, because it is high-duty and extremely resistant. As a result, it doesn’t break, therefore is safer.
Normally, this type of disposables is not painted but coated with stainless steel, indeed, there is no chemical used on the outside. Stainless steel is also a sustainable and recyclable material. But the real advantage of this type of tableware, it is the possibility of reuse. Stainless steel coated tableware products are deemed to change everything, from something that was designed for a single use to an extended lifespan.
The drawback is that, you will not be able to find many disposable items like this. Jupiter Flatware is a stand alone example, its range provides stainless steel coated disposable cutlery that can be used up to 50 times and can be used in the dish washer too.
This cutlery is totally flexible as well strong, that you will not be able to break even if you try.
The inside composition of Jupiter Flatware is thermoplastic and it is well known that this type of plastic unlike others, it is easy to recycle for a lower environment impact.
Reusable is always better than single use
Let’s conclude by saying that it is obvious that sometimes, we do need to use disposable tableware, but the choice of which one to use is ours. Products, like Jupiter, that can be reused, up to 10 times, are certainly a greener alternative.
Do you want to find out more about Jupiter Flatware?
Watch the video. Contact us if you would like to purchase this product for your guests or your customers, they will be amazed!